Monday, February 5, 2018

The stress of commuting to work
Adopting a flextime commuting program may help reduce employees' stress.

Commuting to work is an unavoidable part of many people's job.  Unfortunately, an employee's daily commute to work can be a source of significant stress.  This stress can in turn cause real problems with employee attitude, absenteeism and health.  To help combat these problems, some businesses have adopted a flextime program.  Flextime is a program that allows for flexible starting and quitting times.  Thus employees on a flextime program avoid rush hour traffic by coming to work earlier (or later) and leaving earlier than (or later than) the normal quitting time.  Although this program would seem to help alleviate commuting stress for employees, no research has actually tested the program's effectiveness.  Therefore, two researchers designed a study to test whether flextime is effective at reducing employees' commuting stress.

What was the research about?
The study involved 123 full-time employed commuters from Atlanta, Georgia.  The researchers chose Atlanta residents because Atlanta has the longest average commute (34.7 miles) of any city in the world; making it a very stressful city to commute in.  All of the participants completed an online survey that measured how much stress they felt during their commute, how much time urgency they felt during their commute, and how satisfied they were with their commute.  The researchers then compared responses between participants who were taking part in a flextime program and those who were not.  The results showed that participants taking part in a flextime program reported feeling less stress and less time urgency during their commute.  There was no difference, however, in how much satisfaction both groups felt with their commute.

Why should it matter to me?
If commuting to work is a source of significant stress, then you may want to look into trying a flextime program.  Although this program means adjusting your work schedule, the reduction in stress may be worth it.  Alternatively, if you are a manager who is worried about employee stress due to commuting, a flextime program may be worth considering.
Source: Lucas, Jennifer, & Heady, Ronald B. (2002). Flextime commuters and their driver stress, feelings of time urgency, and commute satisfaction. Journal of Business  and Psychology, 16, 565-571.