Professor Cary Cooper on a nation of commuters

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Sir Cary Cooper, 50th Anniversary Professor of organisational psychology and health, appeared on BBC Breakfast on Monday 9 November to discuss the implications of commuting on health and wellbeing.

New figures have revealed that there are increasing numbers of people travelling for more than two hours a day to reach their place of work.  There are now three million Britons who make the two hour journey every day, compared to two million a decade ago.

Professor Cary Cooper commented on the huge impact long commutes have on wellbeing, noting that the UK has the longest working hours in Europe.  Alongside this, workers have to compete with long commutes, only adding to the existing long working hours.

Highlighted by Professor Cooper was the significant trouble commuting is causing within the existing long hours culture, which could prove to be a contributory factor to the productivity gap we are currently experiencing in the UK.

Professor Cooper noted that one of the reasons for such a high volume of commuters is the rise in house prices; more and more people are now living further away from their workplace. This, teamed with infrastructure unsuitable for the volume of commuters, explains the rise in travel time for many individuals.

Research from the Trade Union Congress reveals that it is often nurses, teachers and mostly women who have the longest commutes.  Professor Cooper also noted that women are also earning less, so are significantly affected from the issues surrounding long commutes.

Professor Cooper concluded that flexible working is the answer to the increasingly time-consuming commuting.  He noted that the UK economy is based on services and knowledge-based industries, so it should be an initiative that we are able to embrace.

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