The Impact of Commute Time on Work-Life Balance

Commute time is the normal time spent by the employee traveling from home to their assigned office. There are various modes of transport that people use to get to their places of work – some people drive alone, others carpool or are taken by staff buses and others are at the mercy of public transport. These all have varying impacts on commute time.

The studies and statistics are jarring, it has been discovered that longer commute times are associated with lower job and leisure time satisfaction, increased strain and adverse effects on mental health. 

Today’s work environments tend to be cut-throat, competitive and fast-paced. Trying to get sales up, expand reach, come up with innovative ideas, manage expenses, deal with conflict – the pressure mounts and takes a toll! Breathe. 

Work-life balance, refers to a balance between one’s personal and work life. It is of utmost importance to achieve some sort of balance so that we can manage stress and burnout by attending to other parts of our lives that are not consumed by our work.

Neighbourhoods with shorter commutes play a pivotal role in fostering a healthy work-life balance. With less time spent on the commute, this avails more time for leisure activities and spending quality time with friends and family. This time spent nurturing relationships is invaluable. After a long day of work and a commute which is just as long, it may be difficult to put your best foot forward and be social.

Shorter commute times can improve a person’s mood and wellbeing in a variety of ways. Have you ever noticed that after a long journey you can be exhausted even though you were seated for much of the time? This is because sedentary behaviour leads to decreased oxygen and nutrient delivery to muscles and organs resulting in fatigue and reduced alertness. 

Furthermore, an active lifestyle is advisable, unlike an apple a day – it is much more effective at keeping the doctor away. A lot of people will take advantage of early mornings or the late afternoons right after work to move around and exercise – this becomes a luxury and almost out of reach for those who are bogged down by having long, uncomfortable commutes. A neighbourhood located close to the work affords one the option of living a more active lifestyle, contributing to a better work-life balance. 

The flexibility offered by shorter commute times is unmatched, when a person lives far from their place of work it is more difficult to respond swiftly to unexpected changes or events. If you need to leave work to attend to an urgent family matter, for example, the distance and time required to go home and return to work may make it very unfeasible. You end up living the life described by “The Verve” in their song “Bittersweet Symphony” – “tryna make ends meet, you’re a slave to the money then you die.” 

Let’s take a look at public transport and its role in commute times and ultimately work-life balance. Good public transport can be more affordable than owning and maintaining a private vehicle. The cost of fuel is ever on the rise, insurance is due every term and the parking fees can take a whole lot of your salary. In some cities, it costs a dollar per hour – if you’re parked for 8 hours that amounts to $40 a week! Cutting down your transport expenses can help a great deal in this era of inflation and can give you some peace of mind, ultimately reducing your stress levels and contributing to your overall health and well-being. 

Imagine having a transport system that is so reliable that you can give your undivided attention to your work and be productive. You may have only heard about it, perhaps you watched the movie series, better yet, you may have even read it but did you know that J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series was composed on her long commutes? If your commute is long and public transport is unreliable you will be on the edge of your seat (figuratively and literally, because sometimes it could even get quite cramped) because you are not certain if you will reach your destination on time and you therefore cannot immerse yourself in work. An unreliable transport system hinders your ability of being a star employee because you have no flexibility to be able to pivot to work’s impromptu demands.

It is undeniable that commute time has a significant impact on work-life balance. When choosing housing, it’s important to take this into account. Living further from the central business district may offer benefits such as cheaper housing. However, in the long term, you could find yourself paying the price through increased transport costs or, worse yet, negatively impacting your mental health and throwing off your work-life balance. Access to good public transport is also important because it gives you the freedom to make the most of your commute time, this should also be considered. 

In light of commute time and its effect on work-life balance, property developers such as  WestProp have created gated communities that allow residents to live, work, shop and play all within the confines of the estate. This means there is no or minimal commute time for WestProp’s residents since work will typically be a short walk away or a cart-ride if it is in The Hills Lifestyle Estate. All of WestProp’s developments are located in close proximity to schools, medical facilities or economic hubs. Whatever is not within the estates, will still be conveniently located close by. Residents free up more time for the things that they truly love which is a significant boost towards a healthy work-life balance.