Flexible working and new technology could have a significant impact on how many people commute to work.
Thanks to recent advances in technology, employees are able to access many of the systems and software they require outside the office. As long as they have an internet connection, these ‘remote workers’ can operate anywhere in the world.
Remote workers are also able to stay in contact with colleagues and managers using the latest cloud computing software and mobile hardware. Plus, if they need to dial in with clients, free video conferencing is available across platforms like Skype, FaceTime or YouTube.
The 2014 rule changes to flexible working gave employees and businesses more freedom with their time. In tandem with flexible working, could technology have an impact on the UK’s working culture?
A nation of commuters
With over 10 million UK residents still commuting from one local authority to another, it’s hard to see the immediate impact that the flexible working law change has had.
For UK workers, the average commute time is between 22 and 26 minutes, depending on where they live. For London-based employees, however, the average is 45 minutes, adding an hour and-a-half to the working day.
Part of the reason is that, due to London’s disproportionate share of the job market, people are commuting to the capital from all over the country. Workers commute to London from as far away as Wales, Merseyside and even Northumberland.
Other major cities also have large catchment areas: Welsh residents commute to Birmingham while people in Scarborough are working in Leeds.
Is tech the solution?
New technology could be the key to enabling more employees to work remotely and avoid the daily commute.
According to the latest Vodafone Global Survey, 75 per cent of companies have been able to introduce flexible working policies.
Thanks to the rapid adoption of high-speed home internet, 61 per cent of employees can now access work applications at home.
Benefits or negatives?
The same percentage (61 per cent) said that, thanks to this tech-enabled remote working, company profits had increased. In addition, 83% of businesses said that productivity had increased.
However, tech is proving to be a double-edged sword. Increased accessibility to work emails and applications is encouraging an ‘always on’ working culture. This is leading to longer hours and increased stress, according to psychological experts.
Businesses can tackle this with a working culture that promotes a clear work-life balance. They can also increase investment in health and wellbeing programmes.
Rather than just being the root of the problem, technology could also form part of the solution. Messaging services and presence indicators could help employers monitor a worker’s activity to make sure that they are not working long hours. These tools are already being used to boost productivity and help workers to succeed.
With good employee management, a clear working culture and the right technology, remote working could be the future. The daily commute, meanwhile, might eventually become less and less of a burden.
Commute safety: travelling safe every day