We all laughed, and someone said she wasn’t alone, but then she said, ‘No I’m serious.
‘I hate the journey going into work. It’s fine when I’m there, but I wake up and the very thought of the journey from hell looming ahead of me makes me want to scream.’
And I’m sure she’s not alone. I, for one, used to have a hellish commute from Surrey in to the City. I had an 8am start, so I was out of the door and on the train by 6.30am. By Friday I was frazzled.
In fact, I was frazzled by Wednesday. And I can still recall numerous run-ins with other bolshy, bad-tempered commuters who, by the way they behaved, hated the commute even more than I did.
The fact is that commuting is the bane of many people’s lives. We have get in to work, but the cost and the hassle is almost too much to bear.
So I thought, why do it? There are plenty of other options – and you don’t need to jack in the day-job to free yourself from commuter hell.
Work from home
While the suggestion that you ‘work from home’ used to be a euphemism for skiving off, today many companies actively encourage employees to work from home during the working week.
The whole work-life balance has struck a chord and with everyone now online and fully-equipped with a computer or laptop at home, many people can do at least some of their work out of the office.
There might be aspects of your job that have to be done very early or late in the day. Suggesting you do these at home, before you come in, or once you’re technically supposed to be ‘off duty’ shows both willing and that home-working is perfectly feasible.
Once you’ve proven you can put a full day’s work in, even when the boss isn’t glowering at you, then you can start to push for a day or two working at home.
Experts say that working from home just two days a week can cut your commuting costs by 40% a year.
Flex your working week
If the idea of having every Friday working from home is too much of a stretch for your boss, then there is always the option of flexible working.
Forget the nine to five, with flexible working, as the name suggests, you work when you need to. So you might work late some evenings, come in early one week and then even work a few weekends. In return you get the equivalent time off during the week.
If this sounds like something that would suit your working week, check your contract first. While technically anyone can ask for flexible working, your contract may give you the statutory right to request it. This means that you can ask for flexible working hours; although your employer isn’t legally bound to agree to it.
But if that’s the case you have a better chance of wangling it, because the law says your employer must seriously consider any application for flexi working that you make. They can only reject it if there are good business reasons for doing so.
Flexi working needs both the company and the employee to be flexible in their approach. So unlike with a set four-days-in-the-office-one-day-working-from-home week, you will have to do a little give and take. But it breaks up the monotony and can cut down on the commute quite considerably.
Work a ‘compact’ week
Experts say that working ten hour days four times a week, rather than the usual nine-to-five, can save you 20% a year in commuting costs. Add in the bonus of three day weekends and you’re on to a definite winner.
In return you get more time to spend with family, on your hobbies – or moonlighting if you prefer.
And companies with any sense will want to give it a go – they can cut costs without losing any of their staff’s productivity. The NHS has been doing it for a while, with medical staff working in hospitals working 12-hour shifts as a matter of practice.
In the US, the ‘9/80’ way of working is in full swing outside the health service – with more and more companies seeing the benefits of having staff get through two weeks’ work in just nine working days.
That’s got to be a win-win situation for everyone.