“Commuting worsened the decay of civic life, observed political scientist Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone, his 2000 classic about the US. Ever fewer Americans knew their neighbours, worked as a volunteer or went bowling in clubs any more. This decay had many causes, but, said Putnam, “I was shocked to find how robust a predictor of social isolation commuting is. There’s a simple rule of thumb: every 10 minutes of commuting results in 10 per cent fewer social connections.””
If this is true of people who do a day that lasts eight elapsed hours with an hour-long commute, think about what happens to people who work twelve elapsed hours (or more) with a long drive at either side?
In our Eyes Half Shut campaign of 2018-19, we focussed on seven key problems:
- Short term physical health risks
- Damage to family
- Physical dangers driving/working with heavy equipment
- Management issues – productivity etc
- Equality – particularly issues affecting women
- Mental health risks
- Bullying resulting from long hours.
If we were to do it again, we could add social isolation to that list, along with the way that long hours working excludes people with disabilities.