The way we work has significantly changed for many of us during the Covid-19 pandemic. Lots of people are now working from home or making fewer commutes and business trips. And face-to-face meetings are being replaced by video calls. Our Delivery Coordinator, Clare Dowling rethinks the way we commute to work and how these changes have impacted our professional lives.
In June 2020, the Office for National Statistics Opinions and Lifestyle Survey found that 38% of working adults worked only from home between 11 and 14 June.
This is significantly higher than during 2019 when only 5.1% reported they “mainly” worked in their own home.
My role at Sustrans is to manage some of our projects in schools, communities and workplaces.
Recently this has involved working with colleagues across the UK to support workplaces through the lockdown period and as they transition back to the office.
And it’s made me think about the huge impact on our lives – and the environment more widely – that our commutes and business travel have.
Re-thinking the way we work and commute
How many businesses who previously did not allow staff to work from home have been able to support this during the pandemic?
And how many employees have been able to spend more time with their families and less time on their commutes?
Of course, the lockdown has been and continues to be, difficult for many people.
The impact of the virus on physical and mental health for many has been unprecedented and sadly fatal.
But that’s not to say that we can’t look at some of the positive changes to our way of life that have occurred during this time and may never go back to what they once were.
A change in pace has been positive for many
I have spoken to many people for whom the change in pace that lockdown permitted has been hugely positive for their lives.
Some have said that not commuting to work has given them more time to cycle for enjoyment.
And during lockdown, this was really important for their wellbeing.
Some key workers I’ve spoken to have praised the quiet roads, which have made their journeys to work easier.
Clare is a practice nurse who has always wanted to cycle to work but found the traffic quite intimidating.
During lockdown, she started cycling whilst the roads were quieter to build up her confidence.
Supporting business to enable active and sustainable travel to work
Whilst many will continue working from home, key workers are still travelling to their place of work, and people are slowly returning to their offices in some industries.
Sustrans is keen to support businesses with enabling their employees with active and sustainable travel to work.
The benefits of an active commute
Cycle commute times are less variable than journeys made by car, regardless of traffic jams.
And reducing business journeys means a better work-life balance, less stress and increased productivity.
Swapping even just a few short-distance car journeys for a walk or cycle can make a huge difference to the week.
If everyone did it there would be less traffic on the roads, making quicker journey times for busses and key workers, better air quality and safer environments for everybody to walk and cycle in.
We also know that working from home is not for everyone. During the lockdown doing so was particularly hard for some people.
So we've produced an infographic to help employees look after their health and wellbeing whilst working from home.
And this will ensure they switch off and engage with home life once the working day is over.
Enabling staff to travel sustainably
We encourage businesses to consider a more flexible approach to working from home, supporting those who wish to continue to do so.
And we’d like to see more workplaces writing active travel policies, encouraging and enabling staff to walk, cycle and use public transport more for their commute and business journeys.
Get more guidance and resources
We’ve updated our workplaces section of the website.
So if you’d like to find out more about how Sustrans could support your workplace to enable active and sustainable travel, go and take a look.
You’ll also find some downloadable resources to support employees health, wellbeing and travel choices.