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Telework, travel times, and peak hour avoidance in England: An overview using travel times across five weekdays


International audienceThis study examines the association of telework and travel times for work and non-work purposes at peak and off-peak times over the five-day workweek (Monday-Friday). Two seemingly competing hypotheses are considered. The first is that teleworkers travel less and avoid peak hours because of a greater flexibility of their working hours. The second is that teleworkers have to travel at peak times as much as others, due to the temporal ordering of the cities and society. Data for residents of England from the 2015–2019 UK National Travel Surveys (NTS) are used. Overall, the analysis suggests that when considering the five-day workweek, teleworkers experience longer travel times than other workers for both work and non-work purposes. The longer travel times for work reflect the fact that teleworkers are more likely to hold professional or managerial positions, have higher incomes, commute by train, and/or work in London. The association of telework and non-work travel times remains once employment, commute, socioeconomic and location factors are taken into account. There is also indicative evidence for some net peak avoidance among teleworkers for commuting but not for non-work travel. The findings thus suggest that both hypotheses may hold, although the first for commuting and the second for non-work travel. Whether the conclusions extend to teleworking after the COVID-19 pandemic remains to be examined using NTS or similar data, but it is not implausible that qualitative differences in teleworkers’ travel times and peak hour travel pre- and post-pandemic may not be as large as public discourse might suggest

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Last time updated on 13/12/2023

This paper was published in HAL-uB.

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