WHU General

WHU Professor Featured in WirtschaftsWoche and TAZ

Prof. Dr. Fabiola Gerpott proposes innovative solutions to counteract the harmful effects of commuting

In her most recent study, entitled, “Stop and Go, Where is My Flow? How and When Daily Aversive Morning Commutes are Negatively Related to Employees’ Motivational States and Behavior at Work”, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management Prof. Dr. Fabiola Gerpott demonstrates the negative effects of stressful commutes on productivity and state of flow in the workplace. According to her interview with WirtschaftsWoche, Prof. Dr. Gerpott herself lives a short walk from the office, but her study emphasizes the harrowing effects of long-term, lengthy commutes, whether the stress result from delays, traffic, other commuters, etc. Resulting issues can manifest themselves in everything from less dramatic capacities like lower energy levels in the workplace to more serious problems like an active loss of joy while working.

But even a “simple” loss of energy can lead to serious deterioration of performance. Depending on the work environment or atmosphere on any given day, effects can be more drastic whether it be through less engagement and motivation, more procrastination, and less willingness to help colleagues. According to Prof. Dr. Gerpott, employers should allow their employees to maintain flexible work schedules and encourage socialization in the workplace. Employees themselves should consider variations to their commute like cycling, as well as keeping work schedules flexible and beginning the workday with less strenuous tasks in order to have accomplished something early.

The study comes at a time when many companies are beginning to go back into the office, thereby asking many of their employees to begin commuting again. According to Prof. Dr. Gerpott in TAZ, "It will hardly be possible in companies to call employees back to work completely. That at least part of the work can continue to be done in home office will remain. If the company does not make that possible, there is a risk that some of the employees will leave.”