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Reclamation project for commuters

Five simple strategies can help ‘reclaim your commute’ in order to reduce stress through greater control, says new Harvard Business Review article co-authored by Dr Jochen Menges of Cambridge Judge Business School.

Commuting to and from work makes many people miserable, yet there are five simple strategies to “reclaim your commute” in order to reduce stress and improve productivity, according to a new Harvard Business Review (HBR) article co-authored by Dr Jochen Menges, University Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour at Cambridge Judge Business School.

Dr Jochen Menges

In the US alone, 25 million workers spend more than 90 minutes a day commuting to and from their jobs, while the average UK round-trip commute is 54 minutes (up from 45 minutes in 2003) – despite numerous studies that underscore the downsides of commuting such as anxiety, lower life and work satisfaction, and a higher chance of getting divorced.

“But it doesn’t have to be this way,” says the article in the May-June issue of Harvard Business Review, which suggests five “tweaks” to greater happiness and productivity for commuters.

The strategies include “simple rituals” such as checking your calendar to transition the mindset between personal and professional; preparing to be productive; finding a “pocket of freedom” through creative activities; being more social (yes, talking to strangers can actually help); and reducing your commute.

Regarding commuting time, the article cites as-yet unpublished research showing that many people suffer from “commuter’s bias” that doesn’t fully reflect the downsides of commuting. A survey of more than 500 US workers showed that 84 per cent would choose a job with a salary of $67,000 a year and commuting time of 50 minutes over a job with a salary of $64,000 and 20-minute commute – even though that translates into just $12 per hour of commuting time, or less than half their hourly work rate.

The HBR article entitled “Reclaim Your Commute” is co-authored by Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School; Bradley Staats of the University North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School; Columbia Business School PhD candidate Jon Jachimowicz; Julia Lee, a postdoctoral fellow at University of Michigan Ross School of Business; and Jochen Menges of Cambridge Judge Business School and WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management.