Working from home could deny employees commuting benefits

23 Apr 2020 By Siobhan Palmer

Travelling to the office enables workers to think about work and prepare for the day ahead, study finds

While many UK workers are undoubtedly encountering challenges when it comes to adapting to working from home during the coronavirus pandemic – from juggling work and family responsibilities to quickly getting used to new technologies – most are probably pleased to avoid the daily commute. However, a study from Cambridge Judge Business School has found not travelling to the office each day could be making work harder for some employees. 

According to the research, published in the forthcoming issue of journal Organization Science, commuting time can be useful to staff by providing time to ‘role transition’. The study’s authors said workers who used their commutes to think about their upcoming work were well prepared for the day ahead. 

“We’re not saying long commutes are fun, but there are ways employees can find some benefits from their commute by proactively using the time for useful transition,” said Dr Jochen Menges, lecturer in organisational behaviour at Cambridge Judge. When people worked from home, he explained, they didn’t have the time to carry out this transition. 

Of course, people travelling less amid the coronavirus pandemic has many environmental benefits, not to mention its importance in protecting people’s health, Menges added. 

The study did not expand on whether leaving the house for a walk or run before returning to working remotely carried the same role transition benefits as a daily commute, but it’s the closest alternative available to many right now. 

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