Guest blog: In the car on the M4 - my transitory dwelling place, my space in-between - By Dr Harriet Shortt, Associate Professor in Organisational Studies, University of the West of England Bristol

Guest blog: In the car on the M4 - my transitory dwelling place, my space in-between - By Dr Harriet Shortt, Associate Professor in Organisational Studies, University of the West of England Bristol

As Work Wise Uk's Commute Smart Week comes to a close, I thought I might write a piece that, I hope, will raise some thoughts and reflections about how and why our commutes might offer a space for escape and freedom. Taking a critical, analytical view here, I offer some thoughts on the commute as a space ‘in-between’ in which we can momentarily break away from the multitude of identities we seek to maintain in contemporary society, and temporarily find a sense of sanctuary in a working world characterized by change and fluidity.

The commute. On a train, on a bus, or in a car. It is a space in-between the dominant spaces of work and home. It is a liminal space. Or is it?

In my paper, ‘Liminality, space and the importance of ‘transitory dwelling places’’ (Shortt, 2015), I argue that spaces in-between – or liminal spaces – become transitory dwelling places when they are made meaningful by workers. I was talking about spaces at work in this paper –  like corridors, stairwells, and toilets. Places in which, as my research shows, workers hang out in order to seek privacy, escape the visibility of work, or hide away with colleagues for snatched conversations away from the open-plan office. But recently, my commute in my car from Bath to Bristol and back seems to be taking on similar characteristics. It’s my little space in-between. My space to escape.

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Guest blog: Commuting is taking longer and making our lives harder - time for a twenty-first century approach - By Frances O'Grady, TUC General Secretary

Guest blog: Commuting is taking longer and making our lives harder - time for a twenty-first century approach - By Frances O'Grady, TUC General Secretary

British workers now spend the equivalent of 27 working days a year travelling to and from work, according to TUC figures published today. In the last ten years, the average commute has increased by 20 hours a year.

And commuting is eating up more of our money as well as our time. Rail fare increases of 3.6 per cent have already been announced for the start of 2018, and the price of petrol is predicted to rise as well.

With the days getting shorter, this is the time of year when the commuter blues really bite. Travelling home from work in the dark can be depressing – even dangerous – as weather worsens and travelling conditions become dismal.

It doesn’t have to be this way. And Commute Smart Week is a good time to start thinking about smarter alternatives, like flexi-time and high-quality home-working.

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Guest blog: We can't stop the clocks going back, but we can take positive action to improve our well being - By Ian McKay, Chairman, How's My Driving.

Guest blog: We can't stop the clocks going back, but we can take positive action to improve our well being - By Ian McKay, Chairman, How's My Driving.

In an ideal world a large proportion of people would prefer to work from home, or at least much closer to home than they currently do. The stresses of long traffic queues, delayed trains and cancelled flights all affect our physical and mental health and extend our working day.

Even without these pressures it’s a fact that “driving 25,000 miles or more a year on business is the third most dangerous activity in the UK”.

It’s not realistic for everybody to work from home, but society must start to think and act on the sheer waste of resource in people travelling hours to just sit at a desk in a corporate office.

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Guest blog: Cities can lead the way in supporting smart commuting - By Lianna Etkind, Public Transport Campaigner, Campaign for Better Transport

Guest blog: Cities can lead the way in supporting smart commuting - By Lianna Etkind, Public Transport Campaigner, Campaign for Better Transport

Flexible working has come a long way since it was seen as the ‘mummy shift’. While there’s still a long way to go until every employer makes flexible hiring the norm, and until an end to unreasonable refusals of flexible working, more and more employers are recognising its benefits.

Unfortunately, the transport sector has largely failed to keep up with this enormous shift in working practices. While around 60 per cent of us now work part-time or flexibly, rail fares are still stuck in an archaic structure of nine to five, Monday to Friday, meaning commuters around the country are being penalised. We are faced with a choice between buying a season ticket which will only be used three or four days a week, or buying full price peak-time fares for the days we travel. Those who work part-time, or those who work from home one or two days a week, end up paying well over the odds for commuting. For many part-time workers, these extra costs fall on top of a reduced wage and the high costs of childcare. It’s no surprise that some people give up their city job for a local job, even if it doesn’t offer the same salary or opportunities for progression, and others give up work altogether.

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Guest blog: Is it time to ditch the commute altogether? How working remotely benefits your organisation, your staff - and the planet

Guest blog: Is it time to ditch the commute altogether? How working remotely benefits your organisation, your staff - and the planet

By Lucy Elkin, Director of myworkhive.com, a social enterprise specialising in remote work. myworkhive runs a job-board for remote roles, and is developing flexible, virtual internships for Mums returning to work and people with disabilities.

Eight years ago, I stopped commuting. Moving to a rural part of Suffolk with my young family, I faced a dilemma; most jobs in my sector (I managed overseas charity projects) were concentrated in London, leaving me the choice of commuting for two-to-three hours each day, or finding a way to work from home. It was not a hard decision, as luckily I was able to work freelance from home for a previous employer. Home-based or ‘remote’ working became the norm for me. Yet I kept meeting talented people — often Mums, and people with health or mobility challenges — who had taken jobs well below their skill level or dropped out of the workforce altogether, because there were no good job options close by. So I founded myworkhive to help more people connect with the many employers who are embracing smarter, more flexible ways of working.

I see remote working as one part of this flexi-work ecosystem. However, unlike other more familiar forms of flexible working, such as part-time jobs and compressed hours, working remotely can require a shift in mindset for employers. Part of that is realising that it’s not just a nice perk to offer staff — it can also offer significant business benefits. Here are seven ways that remote working can benefit both your organisation and your team:

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