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Wednesday, 1 May, 2002, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
Commuting can take 'almost half a day'
Train travellers at Kings Cross station, London
Workers are sympathetic to the idea of home working
The journey to work is becoming long and expensive, with some people spending a third of their salary and almost half their day on travelling.

Commuting can take as long as four hours per day, the survey for the RAC Foundation suggests.

People across the country are spending the equivalent of five weeks a year just getting to work due to travelling time, it said.


In our culture many bosses raise an eyebrow if someone says they are going to work from home today

Edmund King

But the results also found that if employees worked from home, traffic could be reduced by as much as 20% from the UK's roads.

Worst hit by the drive-to-work slog are workers in the south east of England, the survey found.

The average amount spent on travel is 3,500, says the report, compiled in association with the Teleworking Association, which promotes home working.

The two organisations have launched a joint campaign to point out to motorists just how much time and money is spent on the daily commute.

In a report to be published shortly by the RAC Foundation, nearly half of drivers are said to be sympathetic to the idea of working from home.

Demands

RAC Director Edmund King told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the home working idea is catching on.

"There have been many false dawns, but we are beginning to see it take off," he said.

Research suggests that within five years home working could cut traffic problems by 10%.

And it is estimated that in 50 years time around half of the population will work from home.

Commuters
The average spent on travel is 3,500

The RAC looked at the commuting issues facing a hypothetical person - named "Didcot man" - who spent 15 hours per week and a third of his salary on travelling.

"He could be better off in a lower paid job nearer to home," said Mr King.

Mr King said workers who spent just one day in a week working from home could find huge benefits for themselves and their employers.

"In our culture many bosses raise an eyebrow if someone says they are going to work from home today," he told the programme.

"But if people work from home they can actually get more done and are less likely to be interrupted."

The rise in internet shopping and video conferencing is making a difference to the amount of traffic on the roads, Mr King said.

Long hours culture

"Technology is better and cheaper, so more employees have the chance to work some of the time from home," he said.

Another work survey of 2,500 people questioned by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) found most people were unhappy with working long hours, but believed it to be "a requirement of the job".

The study found that only top managers were happy to put in long hours.

TUC General Secretary John Monks said: "Too many organisations are exploiting the loyalty and commitment of their staff by stressing them out with constant new demands."

See also:

30 Apr 02 | England
The 'five-week' journey to work
20 Mar 02 | England
Commuters taught first aid
08 Mar 02 | England
New service for river commuters
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