There may be several reasons you’re considering relocating your office. 

It could be because you are looking for a cheaper location, want to expand or downsize your business, are merging locations, or a combination of all of the above.

However, as you set about searching for a suitable new location, your employees' satisfaction is sure to be one of your key considerations.

And, one of the main elements that will impact on their response to the move will be their commute time. 

The majority of workers have come to terms with the fact that commuting time is part and parcel of working in an office. Nevertheless, a considerable increase in their daily commute time is bound to have negative repercussions on their work. 

Your team is likely to be left feeling demotivated and frustrated - and their general well-being and overall job satisfaction will also be impacted. 

So if you do decide to move your employees’ office, it’s key that you weigh up these two factors, and find the best possible balance. 

What is the standard reasonable daily travelling distance for work? 

Commuting is, for better or worse, one of the unavoidable aspects of working in an office. 

You might be lucky enough to live around the corner from your office, but for many of us, commuting every day takes up to an hour. 

A recent study by TUC found Londoners had the longest commute - an average of 1 hour and 21 minutes a day. 

This is 23 minutes longer than the UK average. 

In fact, according to the TUC study, UK commute times have risen by 5 minutes in the past 10 years. This increase translated to 18 extra hours commuting per year. 

The most popular ways UK workers travel to work are by rail, bus, driving, walking or cycling. 

The TUC study identified rail travel as the longest commuting journey (with an average of 2 hours and 11 minutes per day). Cyclists (44 minute commute) and walkers (29 minutes) have the shortest daily journey time.

In a similar study, T and F online compared the levels of stress that different commuters experienced on their journeys. 

They found that walking and cycling was the least stressful mode of travel, while driving was the most stress-inducing mode of commuter transport. 

What is the current employment law regarding reasonable travelling distance in the UK?

Any changes that you make to your employees’ working conditions must meet the requirements of employment law. However, this being said, reasonable travelling distance is not currently specified by UK law. 

So, in order to ensure that you are doing the right thing by your employees, you should be considerate of them and their situation as you search for a new office location. 

If your employee’s contract includes a mobility clause, they have to move to a new office location, within a certain distance. 

But if the employee can prove that the proposed move is an unreasonable request for them, this cancels out the requirement in their contract. 

For example, a move could be classed as unreasonable if an employer asks their team to move to a site halfway across the globe. 

reasonable travelling distance

What can I do if my employee refuses to move to a new office?

It is not an ideal situation for either employer or employee - but if you wish to move the office location and one of your employees does not want to move, you could make the decision to make them redundant. 

However, this should only be a last-resort option. 

Before you take this drastic step, it is worth considering the options you could put in place to help make this transition easier. These include offering a relocation allowance and flexible remote working options, both of which we will cover in more detail below.  

Ultimately, reasonable daily travelling distances and opinions on how long a commute can be are up to the individual. 

This is a decision that lies with the employee. However, you should use common sense to make sure that no team member is put in a particularly difficult position by the move, if you can avoid it. 

Remote working as a flexible option   

COVID-19 and the recent lockdown has shown that working from home is a far more viable option than many of us had ever anticipated. 

With the latest developments in communication technology at our fingertips, we can speak to our team, organize our workflow, and even collaborate on projects from home. 

It’s something worth bearing in mind, particularly if you have an employee who you know has to travel a considerable difference to get to and from work each day. 

This is a great strategy to improve your employees’ work-life balance and cut down on unnecessary commuting time. 

You could offer a split between working in the office and working remotely from home (if the move adds a considerable distance to their daily commute). 

This flexibility on your part will go a long way towards helping them feel more accepting of the move. 

What is relocation allowance?

Relocation allowance is a type of compensation that employers may offer as a form of relocation expenses if an employee has to move a considerable distance as part of a change to their workplace. 

The employee could use this money to cover costs such as temporary accommodation or the use of storage facilities. 

By offering relocation allowance to your employees, you go a long way towards making the move easier for them. 

There are multiple other ways to help convince your employees that it is worth relocating with the company. These include providing a good relocation package and reassuring employees that there are plenty of future job prospects with this move. You could also offer them a trial period to test how successfully this move fits with their life. 

Reasonable travelling distance: Conclusion

All in all, it is important that you consider your employees’ needs on a case-by-case basis when making an office move. 

Individual journeys and circumstances will be different, so check that your move won't make one person commit to a long and unreasonable commute. 

However, if you are facing this position, there are adjustments that you can make to improve their situation. These include offering regular flexible working and relocation allowances.

If you’re keen to make a move to a new office, Sub800 can help.

We’re the world’s first virtual property company for leasing commercial property. Our offices are affordable, all-inclusive and flexible. 
Browse our offices here or get in touch today to see how we can help you find your ideal London office space.

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