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Will congestion hamper Santa’s Christmas commute?

It might be a mystery to all of us how Santa Claus manages to deliver Christmas presents to children all over the UK in just one night, but one thing we are sure of: he won’t be getting there by car, bus or train.

Thankfully, the daily commute to work does not apply to Saint Nicholas, who is more used to the guiding red light of Rudolph’s nose to show him he is getting somewhere than endless red traffic lights telling him he is not.

For the rest of us, still battling to get to work on long commutes in the run up to Christmas, the story is not so magical. In fact, recent research by Moovit, a transport app used by 2.5m people in the UK, found that 38% of its users in the West Midlands spend over two hours getting to work every day.

To put that in perspective, that is between 25 and 32 minutes longer than it takes commuters in Madrid, Berlin and Paris.

Similarly, in northwest England, including Manchester, Liverpool and Chester, Moovit found that almost one in three of its app users commute for more than two hours.

This research backs up recent findings by the Office of National Statistics, which revealed that 3.7 million workers travel for two hours or longer every weekday.

In fact, it found that the average daily commute lasted 57.1 minutes in 2015.

So why is our daily commute taking so long?

The reasons for these long and stressful journeys seem to be as numerous as the poor Christmas commuters stuck in the gridlock: bottlenecks on rush hour roads, delayed trains, unreliable buses added to towering house prices and rental costs pushing commuters to live further afield.

Not only are these long commutes leaving workers feeling stressed and exhausted, they are also cutting into precious family time and home life.

But is there a way for workers to actually get something positive out of this daily downtime?

Workers get savvy about daily commute

Rather than seeing their journey to work as a complete waste of time, many commuters are actually using that time to become more productive at work and free up more time for home life.

This was the finding of survey of 2000 British workers by recruiter Randstad, which discovered that the number of employees who work while they commute rose from 4.8% in 2008 to 7.5% in 2013.

For many people, working during their commute actually reduces the length of their workday, allowing them to get work done on the way home, rather than staying late in the office.

And of course technology is helping, with 18% of those surveyed by Randstad saying that they felt the development of smartphones and tablets had made it easier for them to work while they travel.

On the other hand, some workers use their commute as an important time to unwind and relax.

To do this, Randstad found that nearly a third of commuters listen to music on the radio, while a quarter listen to their own music while travelling.

Of the commuters who do not travel by car, the most popular activities were listening to their own music (15.2%) and reading a newspaper, magazine or book (14.5%).

So it seems that if you do have a long commute in front of you, the best thing to do is to turn it into a positive and either use the time to relax or to get jobs done while travelling.

Just don’t expect to get as much done as Santa on his yearly Christmas commute!



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