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Average commuted distance increased to 14 kilometres

Long-term progress:
The average commuted distance has increased by one and a half times over the last two decades.
Short-term progress:
The average commuted distance has continued to grow in 2005–2010.
Progress in relation to targets:
No targets are set for commuted distances.

Average one way distances commuted in 1980–2010

Commuted distances

Source: YKR/SYKE and Statistics Finland. 2013.

The longest commutes are from suburbs

Finns are commuting longer distances: in 2010, the average distance from home to work was almost 14 kilometres as the crow flies, while ten years earlier, it was more than two kilometres less. Distances to work have doubled since 1985.

The main reasons for longer commuting distances are urban sprawl and specialisation in working life. Commuted distances are usually longest from the fringes of large urban areas. Thus, with more people living in these areas, the average commuted distance of the entire population becomes longer. Commuters living in city centres have the shortest journeys.

Fewer people can walk or cycle to work. Some can telecommute or use public transport, but an increasing number of people are forced to travel to work by car. Poor public transport services also increase the need to use cars. According to a recent passenger transport study by the Finnish Transport Agency, 72% of commuted kilometres are travelled by private cars, 22% by public transport and only 3% on foot or by bike.


  • Finnish Environment Institute. 2013.
  • National Travel Survey. 2010–2011. Finnish Transport Agency.2012.

Key reason for distance-working


Source: Passenger transport study 2010–2011. Finnish Transport Agency. 2012.

Distance-working and new working life

Longer commuted distances are one sign of the ongoing transformation in working life. However, improved telecommunication systems and more advanced tools facilitate working independent of time and place. Long distances from home to work are not a major problem when there is no need to attend the workplace every day. Work can be done at home, in the employer’s branch office, on the customer’s premises, or in libraries and cafés.

Flexible and mobile work particularly suits the IT sector, but almost all work involves tasks, such as data processing and reporting, that can be performed anywhere.

‘Spatial Dispersion of Work’ a research project of the Academy of Finland, estimates that up to 50% of employees in Europe are involved in distance-working. Benefits include higher productivity and better quality of working life, better integration between work and family life, a more flexible choice of workplace and place of residence, lower commuting costs, lower emissions from commuting and less time spent commuting. Disadvantages include blurring of the boundaries between work and home, and the risk of exclusion from the work community.


Published 2015-04-28 at 10:30, updated 2016-07-21 at 13:27