Resolve to Work Wise in 2008

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Workers in the UK have the second longest average daily commute in Europe in many cases adding an entire working day to the week just to get to the office; Work Wise UK are urging commuters to work smarter by cutting down on the commuting slog.

25 million people commute to and from work every day in the UK:

71% by car
11% walk
8% use the bus
6% go by train
3% cycle
1% go by motorbike

Phil Flaxton, chief executive of Work Wise UK a campaigning outfit organised by the IT Forum Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, said: "The work culture in this country has changed in recent decades, catapulting the UK up the league tables not only to have one of the longest average working weeks in Europe, but also the second-longest daily commutes on top.

"The social and health costs of this huge amount of time spent working and travelling are difficult to assess but rising road congestion and public transport overcrowding, higher than inflation fare increases, rising fuel prices, not to mention growing concern of the harm we are doing to the environment, are all more easily identifiable."

Phil Flaxton continued: "If you stand back and look at the way we work, it is not the most sensible or logical way to go about it. We spend far too long travelling, and all at the same times in the day, and same days during the week – how stupid is that?"

  • The average daily commute in the UK is 8.7 miles, taking on average a total of 54 minutes.
  • One in ten commuters has a daily journey in excess of two hours.
  • Three per cent of UK workers are 'extreme commuters', travelling at least three hours every day.
  • Demand on the transport networks will increase over the next 15 years, particularly during peak hours. In London alone, the population is expected to grow by 800,000 people over that period. So Work Wise is calling for smarter worker which includes flexible working, working from home, working remotely and mobile working. Here are its 10 suggestions for smarter working in the new year:

    • While the majority of rush hour commuting happens between 7:30am and 8:30am, peak commuter hours get earlier as the week progresses – we get up earlier but also leave work earlier with the weekend on the horizon.
    • Commuters could shave up to three hours off their weekly commutes by switching from four wheels to two.
    • The average commute is 8.7 miles – most people could cycle this distance in under an hour.
    • Nine million UK households now have broadband, while new mobile systems such as wi-fi make it possible to securely access business networks from almost anywhere. If all commuters could work just one day a week at home, commuter numbers would fall 20 per cent. This would reduce road congestion and public transport over-crowding significantly.
    • The Energy Saving Trust has calculated that if all commuters left the car at home one day a week this would save enough miles in a year to drive to the moon and back 35,000 times. This is the equivalent emissions reduction of taking over 1.7 million cars off the road and would reduce the UK’s total CO2 emissions by almost 1 per cent.
      In addition, by working from home, workers are at less risk of an accident - 20 people are killed and 250 seriously injured every week in crashes involving someone who was driving, riding or otherwise using the road for work purposes.
    • Use online tools to replace conferences and meetings, to cut back on travel during the business day.
    • BT's home working policies have resulted in a 31 per cent increase in productivity, with savings of £69 million each year from reduced accommodation and overhead costs. In the 2006 financial year, BT’s Workabout scheme reduced BT employees' CO2 emissions from commuting by 7,691 tonnes, with flexible working saving BT people the equivalent of 1,800 years’ commuting every year.
    • Overcome NIMFS (Not in My Front Seat) and share the journey to work with a friend.
    • Take a detour - The RAC Foundation/Trafficmaster Congestion Index found that using less obvious routes to get from A to B can save commuters hours simply by avoiding congestion on their habitual route.
    • The CBI estimates that road congestion costs the UK economy some £20 billion per year. Even a limited take-up of smarter working could save £1.9 billion per year within five years. The average commuter driving an average car, covering the average commute distance will produce almost one tonne of CO2 per person per year. With 25 million people in the UK commuting, that is the equivalent CO2 emissions that would fill almost 50 billion one litre water bottles every day, or enough to fill 89,000 typical three-bedroom homes, which is a city of some 200,000 inhabitants, the size of Norwich or Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

    Phil Flaxton continued: "If you stand back and look at the way we work, it is not the most sensible or logical way to go about it. We spend far too long travelling, and all at the same times in the day, and same days during the week – how stupid is that?"

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