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180 Minutes vs. 20 Seconds. How Long Is Your Trip to the Office?

Article January 31, 2019  |  Text by Lucie Dlouhá Text by Lucie Dlouhá

There’s currently a labor shortage in the Czech Republic, so Czechs have never had such a large opportunity to choose their employer and dictate conditions as they do now. Despite this, over a quarter-million Czechs spend over two hours a day commuting. Why? We’ve interviewed two of these “travelers,” as well as someone whose trip from their bed to the office lasts a mere 20 seconds.

Last year’s survey by JLL and Skanska showed that an attractive work environment helps companies to win out in the fight for employees. But location plays an important role too; most employees are willing to travel 20–40 minutes to work.

Despite this, six percent of Czech employees spend over two hours a day on the road between work and home. This was shown in a survey of over 3,000 employees conducted by Ipsos for Sodexo Benefity, a benefits provider. Employers should offer such workers appropriate benefits to support their work/life balance, for example more frequent opportunities to work from home.

Over the River and Through the Woods

Jana Dragová, the payroll manager at Grafton Recruitment, spends nearly three hours a day traveling to and from work. To reach her office in the morning, she needs a car, a bus, the subway, and her feet.

Her favorite way of spending her commute is reading. Only rarely does she handle work issues on her phone. “But sometimes I prefer to just stare out the window and think about ‘the meaning of life,’” Dragová adds.

She takes the long distance from her workplace as the price she has to pay for living in a beautiful environment—a small village nearby Jílové u Prahy. “I don’t consider my commuting time to be simply ‘lost,’ although I will admit that from time to time it would be nice to live closer,” she says in closing.

Kamila Ševčíková is in a similar situation; she’s the financial manager of a project at Charles University in Prague, and she commutes over two hours a day from Litoměřice. However, she does try to use her travel time to get work done, and so in the bus, she usually works on emails or follows current events in the media.

Just like Jana Dragová, Kamila Ševčíková is satisfied despite the daily commute; she’s doing work that she likes and enjoys. “If you’re doing work that you like and enjoy, and you have a team of great people around you—people that you feel good around—you definitely can’t call this lost time; it’s all about priorities,” Ševčíková said in response to our questions.

An Office Under Your Apartment

Josef Šachta, the co-founder of Sharry Europe, is in the exact opposite situation. His trip from bed to the office lasts, with no exaggeration, just 20 seconds. He lives in the house where he works. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of arrangement?

He sees the main advantage in the fact that he never has to work from home. “When I need to finish something up on the weekend, for example, I just run down to the office. So I’ve got a clear division of where I work and where I relax,” he explains.

He then gives as a negative the lack of time for switching from “work” mode into “home” mode. “I often get confused here. Sometimes how I handle this is by heading out for a walk for 10 minutes after work, or at least running down to the store to buy some rolls,” he says. He views his trip from work as valuable time for clearing his thoughts, calming down, and fine-tuning his mood.

He sees another disadvantage in the complete absence of excuses for arriving late at the office. “I can’t play it off onto traffic jams, snowstorms, or some idiot jumping in front of a tram. If I get there late, then everyone knows I overslept,” Šachta says. However, it does have a positive side: he gets to sleep an extra 20 minutes in the morning before the day’s first meeting. “Still,” he concludes, “you wouldn’t want to live like this forever.”

Photo by Pau Casals/Unsplash