The rise and rise of the reverse commuter

Nov 15 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

With seven out of 10 City of London workers happy to turn their backs on the capital and commute to an out-of-town location, large companies relocating to greener pastures are spawning a growing trend in "reverse commuting".

According to recruitment consultancy Robert Walters, cheaper office space and a more pleasant working environment has encouraged a number of large corporations relocate to places such as Surrey and Sussex over the past year.

"This is creating exciting opportunities especially for finance professionals who reap the benefits of working in a modern environment close to London without having to sacrifice their city salary," said Daniel Ladd-Hudson, Director of Robert Walters Surrey and Sussex division.

And whereas staff making the move from the city to the suburbs were once hit with a 15 per cent-20 per cent fall in salary, he added that this pay differential has now fallen to less than 5 per cent.

As more major companies set up shop outside of London and employees seek a better work/life balance, the number of reverse commuters living in London but travelling against the tide to the suburbs is growing, as are the numbers of people joining the exodus from the city to the suburbs.

But the trend is not confined to London. Last month a report by the U.S. Transportation Research Board also found that more commuters are travelling to work from suburb to suburb rather than the traditional commute from suburbs to city centres.

Oil giant ExxonMobil is one company that is set to relocate its operations from London to Leatherhead in Survey early next year.

Sian Mikkelsen, Human Resources Recruitment Manager at ExxonMobil, says the move is part of a shift from a number of office locations in London to an existing super-site within commuting distance of the capital.

"ExxonMobil's Leatherhead site is a modern office space which will accommodate more than one thousand employees," she said.

Wouter Claasen, who lives in Twickenham, West London, says he is attracted to working in Surrey by the short commute and the abundance of career opportunities in the area.

He also saves time and money by commuting 17 miles to work in Surrey in just 35 minutes. "My car payments and fuel every month are less than a monthly travel card," he says.

"You get paid London rates but you have more time, and time is a valued commodity."