A homeworker's guide to recreating the commute

Egon Hunt

04 Apr 2021

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We surveyed 800 UK workers recently and found that 69 percent of them are missing the commute as a result of working from home under COVID-19 restrictions. It seems the daily trips to and from our workplaces are beneficial for a number of reasons.

Our survey revealed that a quarter of workers miss the ‘me time’ travelling afforded them, 10% miss their commute because it gave them the opportunity to learn something new and 45% miss listening to music on their journey to work.

Furthermore, it seems a lack of commuting has had a negative impact on people’s general wellbeing, with almost 19% of workers feeling more stressed, 42% feeling less motivated to wake up in the morning and 13% finding it difficult to wind down at the end of a hard day.

With this in mind, we’ve spoken to a number of experts and pulled together some top tips you can use to reap some of the benefits of commuting without actually travelling to work.

Carve out time for yourself

Our survey findings suggest that commuting to work gives us time to ourselves that we wouldn’t otherwise have to relax and take stock. David Price, CEO of Health Assured echoes this sentiment, saying ‘For many, the morning and evening commutes are a time to be alone with their thoughts where the mind can reset and focus on processing the day ahead or the events just passed. Finding a seat on an empty train, pulling out an e-book, and spending some time just being mindful and calm is something that many people have missed since the pandemic.’

He suggests getting up in the morning and taking a long walk or run before heading home for a refreshing shower, getting into work clothes and logging in for the day ahead. He says that, when combined with a tea or coffee, this activity can help workers to ‘get their head in gear and ready for the day ahead. He notes that getting out and moving more can also reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders developing.

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Learn a new skill

According to our survey, 9% of workers use the daily commute to learn something new. Darren Hockley, Managing Director of eLearning provider, DeltaNet International, points out the benefits of using travel time in this way: ‘The commute is a great time to learn a new skill or brush up on some work-related training. After all, employees who are willing to develop new skills and/or improve their existing skill set are more likely to be highly valued by employers, giving you a competitive edge when it comes to securing jobs or promotions.’

He suggests using mobile learning apps, listening to podcasts or audiobooks, or taking an online training course to ensure that you don’t fall behind during this period of home working. He points out that making this effort could ensure you are better equipped to keep up with the fast pace of change we can expect in organisations in 2021 and could also improve your personal wellbeing by giving you increased self-esteem, feelings of hope, and purpose.

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Make time for music

Music is the number one thing that people miss about commuting, according to our survey. While many of us may still sing along to our favourite tunes while doing household chores or even have some music playing in the background while we’re working from home, it seems that many of us are missing out on time dedicated to giving music our full attention.

By taking the opportunity to connect with music in a mindful way each day, you could stand to benefit in a number of ways. According to Harvard Health Publishing, powerful music can light up the brains’ reward centre, giving us a sense of pleasure and happiness - making it a great mood booster. A 1993 study by Rauscher et al. suggested that listening to music can also have a positive effect on cognitive function, making listening to music a great activity to do ahead of a day of demanding tasks. And several studies have shown that music can reduce stress too, something we could all do with, in this time of uncertainty.

Perhaps, instead of scrolling through social media or watching the news before you log in to work, you could try listening to a playlist of mood-boosting music, sticking on an album you love but haven’t heard in ages or checking out a new artist that’s been recommended to you to see what effect this small change could have.

Recreating your daily commute might seem challenging at first, but the rewards could be great and far-reaching, affecting both your mood, your personal wellbeing, and even your ability to do your job

Do you have your own tips for getting the benefits of commuting without going to work? Let us know using the hashtag #MyFakeCommute

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