Employees and employers shifting back into conventional or hybrid workspaces will have to adjust to more than just the office itself or dressing in business-appropriate outfits (yes, the full outfit, not just the top half).
Another facet of our pre-pandemic lives that many of us have to get used to again is the dreaded commute. Millions of people have become accustomed to not having to drag themselves to work over the last couple of years. Throw in the record-high gas prices to the mix, and people are sure to attempt to avoid the commute as much as they possibly can.
According to a study by McKinsey, 29 percent of people say that they’d rather leave their employer if they require them to be in the office every day. That said, most people will have to make that trek into the office, at least a few days out of the week.
If this is your situation, don’t fret—there are some research-backed ways to improve your commute so that it might actually reduce stress and boost satisfaction and productivity.
Key commuting conditions to consider
A study by the University of Montreal found a strong correlation between commuting and burnout. Those who spend more time commuting were more likely to feel emotionally drained, cynical, and less productive at work.
This is because commuting costs time. Those who commute more tend to feel greater time poverty and feel more disappointed about all that time they’re forced to spend commuting when they could be doing the things they enjoy like exercising, socializing, or reading.
Knowing that commute and burnout are linked can help you make decisions about what kind of employer you want. It could mean accepting positions with less compensation if it also means less time spent commuting.
Dartmouth College conducted a study that found more predictable commutes tend to be less stressful for workers resulting in more effective and productive workdays.
Even though it may not always be possible, try to establish a consistent schedule for your commutes as more consistency is better for your mental health, happiness, and feelings of fulfillment.
If possible, opt to commute through more natural spaces such as green and blue areas like parks and paths that go past bodies of water. A study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health backs the claim that exposure to nature while commuting is nourishing, no matter your mode of transportation.
It’s also worth avoiding routes that go through areas with lots of fast food or grocery stores. Those who commute past these kinds of places tend to have higher BMI and reduced physical well-being, according to research by Arizona State University. If you absolutely cannot avoid them, then resist stopping for a snack.
Consider ditching your car if that is a feasible option for you, and switching it in for a more active kind of transportation, like walking or cycling. For longer commutes, consider an e-bike.
According to studies from the University of Waterloo and Darmouth, commutes that involve more physical activity have a positive impact on mental health, physical health, and productivity.