Commuting to work - how does yours compare?

Posted in Latest News on 10 Apr 2024

We at Douglas Scott Legal Recruitment have been publishing a yearly Salary and Benefits Benchmarker since 2013, which examines the salaries of the legal market across the United Kingdom.  

In addition to salaries, we explore other areas of the legal sector, such as benefits, satisfaction, and reasons for leaving roles. One of those areas is commuting time. A longer commute can be off-putting for a job role, and for some people, it can be a key motivator to look at other opportunities. While we have examined some specific regions on our LinkedIn page, we haven’t shared the numbers for across the country—until now!   

Across the country, the current average (based on the times our respondents submitted to our survey) was 38 minutes. This was down from 2023’s figure by a few minutes, when, on average, it took 41 minutes for respondents to get to work. By comparison with a broader national average, a recent survey from Statistica found that most respondents took either between 15-29 minutes (30%) or between 30-59 minutes (25%) - which might indicate that, generally, legal professionals are willing to travel further than the national average for work. However, that’s just a broad picture. If we want to find out whether commuting times impact people, we need to look at the regions in more detail.   

One thing we can say before we begin, is that no region has seen their commuting time go up – they have all either gone down or stayed the same. Once again, London has the highest commuting time average for the regions, taking 49 minutes to get from home to work on a one-way journey. This number was down by a few minutes last year when London was the only region to break the 50-minute barrier. Three regions all averaged out at the same time: Midlands and Eastern, North-West, Yorkshire and North East all took 36 minutes, with South-East just ahead on 35 minutes (This was a drop of about 3-4 minutes on last year for all these regions). Only one area was below the half-hour mark: South-West and Wales just slipped under on 29 minutes, which was no change from last year’s figure. Most of the legal market was happy with these times – just 2% of all respondents cited commute as a reason for quitting a job. There was one outlier to this figure – the South-East saw 5% of respondents put down that commute was a reason for quitting, and it was one of the top 5 career motivators for this sector. However, other motivators, such as progression, money and job security, were much higher and probably more influential.   

It’s clear that people are generally happy with their commute, and it isn’t taking them too long to get to and from work each day. As we’ve commented in the past few months, some firms are cutting back on the amount of remote and hybrid working and trying to get more people back into the office, so these relatively short commuting times will help people get on board with such policies. However, it might be interesting to see if an increase in full in-office work, might increase commuting times again. 

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