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British commuters feel the strain

Commuting in London: British workers say their journeys are becoming more stressful.
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- New technology and more flexible routines were supposed to liberate workers from the daily grind of commuting.

Yet new research suggests the journey to the office is actually getting worse for many British workers, who already spend longer each day traveling than anywhere else in Europe.

According to a survey of more than 7,500 people conducted by recruitment firm, more than two-thirds of commuters said their journey to work had become more stressful during the past four years.

British workers spend an average 45 minutes on the move each day, according to a study conducted by the RAC Foundation last year, while the average distance traveled has risen 17 percent over the past decade to 8.5 miles.

And when the commuter is let down by the system, it is employers who pick up the bill.

With 17 percent of workers admitting to losing one hour of work time a week because of transport delays, the total loss to British productivity could be as much as 11 million hours a week, or $13.9 billion based on the average national wage.

In London, where many commuters already endure the longest and most crowded journeys in Britain. a third of workers admit to being late for work at least twice a week.

House prices

One side effect of changing patterns of commuting appears to have been a contribution to rising house prices, with growing numbers of home buyers choosing a property or an area because of its convenience for work.

"Alongside all the other pressures making housing costs rise, it seems that increasing stress of daily commuting is putting an even greater pressure on property prices," said managing director Dan Ferrandino.

Almost one in 10 workers said that they had moved house in search of an easier commute, while a third said they had considered doing so.

Furthermore, many workers admitted they would be willing to pay a lot more to live somewhere convenient for their jobs, rather than finding a more accessible employer. One in six of those polled said they would be ready to spend an extra 15 percent on housing to ensure an easier commute.

While moving house, complete with all the stresses that entails, may seem an excessive step to ensure you get to work unruffled and on time, it does illustrate the importance of finding a working balance between home life and office life.

For those who get it right, the daily commute can be a chance to unwind, whether reading a newspaper or book, dozing, or looking out the window; an opportunity to consult the diary and plan for the day ahead; or even to put in a little overtime on the laptop.

"A stressful commute cannot only get you off to a bad start or wreck a relaxing evening; it also makes you less productive at work," said Ferrandino.

"Time spent harmonizing your career plans with where you live can reduce the commuting nightmare and improve the quality of your life."

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