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26 November 2020

Vitality calls for fake commute, as boundaries between work and home life blur as Brits continue to work from home this winter

Almost six in 10 office workers are struggling to separate their work and home life after ditching their commute, research from innovative health and life insurance and investment company Vitality has revealed.

A survey of 2,000 UK adults who have been forced to work from home this year found the average person is saving 60 minutes a day due to the lack of travel to and from work. However, the much-maligned commute acted as a buffer between work and home life, leaving 59 per cent struggling to switch off after their working day.

And 42 per cent went as far as to say the lack of commute is having a negative effect on their physical health and wellbeing. As a result, 58 per cent are even missing certain aspects of their trip to and from work, with being able to separate home and work the top reason.

Others miss the journey to and from work because it gave them time to drive in the car alone (25 per cent), take a break from friends, family and housemates (22 per cent), and exercise by walking and cycling to the station (19 per cent).

The study was commissioned by insurer Vitality, which is encouraging Brits to have a ‘fake commute’, to spend at least 20 minutes in the morning before work or 20 minutes after work doing exercise, taking time to meditate or take up a hobby to improve physical and mental health.

Neville Koopowitz, CEO of Vitality, said:"This year has been exceptional and changed our lives in many ways. In the first lockdown many of us found we had extra time in our day, taken back from the commute to work, which we were able to use constructively in some way.

“However, our research shows that more recently, likely affected by winter and the longer nights, that many of us have slipped into unhealthy habits, using this time to sleep in or work more, resulting in a struggle to keep boundaries between our working and home lives – which can lead to stress and poor mental health.

“That’s why today we at Vitality are urging everyone to set aside some of the time they would previously have used getting to or from work, to prioritise their own health.

“By taking just 20 minutes each day to introduce a habit, or one that may have previously been part of our commute, such as a walk, moment of meditation or even just getting outside to grab a coffee, we can all improve our physical and mental wellbeing during a time when it’s crucial we look after ourselves.”

The study also found that while 29 per cent have replaced their commute with a walk, 69 per cent admitted they aren’t doing much with the extra time they now have. Almost four in 10 (37 per cent) admitted they simply spend more time in bed.

And 40 per cent are now working longer hours, leaving 45 per cent feeling less happy at work due to increased stress.

As a result, the research, conducted by OnePoll for Vitality, found 67 per cent feel they need to improve their mental health and wellbeing this winter. Just under three quarters (72 per cent) also want to boost their physical health.

When it comes to exercise, 36 per cent have been doing more since working from home, but 32 per cent admitted they are doing less than they used to. A third (33 per cent) said they need more motivation or the offer of incentives to make use of their commute time. Another 27 per cent felt they needed a plan to follow and 20 per cent could do with a fitness device to monitor their activity.

Alongside the ‘fake commute’, Vitality has launched a Winter Pack programme designed to offer its insurance members incentives and rewards to stay healthy in mind and in body at home through winter and beyond, such as access to home workouts on Peloton, fitness device discounts and a coffee at home benefit with free guides and tips available for everyone to access on Vitality’s social channels.

Vitality introduced the Winter Pack in response to an eight per cent decrease in activity levels seen within its members during the first week of October, compared to the average weekly level for September (1).


For further information, please contact:

Alexa Chaffer, Head of PR, Vitality

Notes to editors

Research carried out November 2020, One Poll on behalf of Vitality with 2,000 respondents who previously used to work in an office.

(1) Data taken from Vitality members with physical activity tracked per day for the week ending 04/10/2020, compared to the weekly average in September

To help employers, Vitality offers award-winning health insurance that is 5 Star Rated by Defaqto. Our unique Vitality Programme can also reward your employees for their healthy living, encouraging positive behaviour changes and supporting them to put their health and wellbeing at the forefront.