This is actually less than the average person today. The average travel time to get to work across the entire nation comes in at a little over 25 minutes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That average equates to as much as 18 hours a month spent commuting, assuming a 5-day commute.
I currently have no daily commute. If I did, I would be allocating as much as 40 hours a month to get to and from work each day.
Which leads to my next point: there are quite a few costs to commuting.
What’s more is that quite a few studies support how we’re actually not very capable of assessing how impactful these “true costs” are on our overall quality of life.
Here’s what some of the science says about the effect our commute has on our overall well-being.
Longer commutes have been shown to create behaviors that don’t benefit our health.
If you are guessing that these affected behaviors and habits include less time for exercise, sleep, and for household-related chores, then you are right. Add to this list the following behaviors and consequences: increased lateness, increased turnover at work, decreased cognitive performance, and even an increased likelihood of non-grocery food purchases, to name a few.
Those who commute have more self-reported neck and back conditions, as reported by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, among other studies. Additionally, those with longer commutes were more likely to have a body mass index in the obese category.
We can make the link between the sedentary aspect of commuting and its negative influence on our health, but there’s also something to be said for the stress that’s added to our day during, and because of, the commute itself.
For those of us that take longer than 90 minutes getting home from work, 40 percent experience worry the day after that commute. Not surprisingly, workers with long commutes are less likely to have experienced enjoyment for much of that previous day, and they are less likely to feel well-rested. Researchers attribute some of the other health issues that are more likely found in commuters, such as hypertension, to the stop-and-go nature of commuting. It’s also the “lack of control” we have during our commute that adds to the stress. One study even indicated that these long commutes mean stress both during the commute, but perhaps more notably, that this stress also spills over into our workday.
Financial justification? It might not be as valid as you think.
A person who commutes one hour in the morning and at night would have to make 40 percent more money to be as satisfied with life as a person as someone who is near what they call their office, according to research by Alois Stutzer’s.
The Natural Resources Defense Council took it upon themselves to calculate the actual cost of commuting, finding that commuters spend $2,180 to and from work in urban areas, $3,347 in the suburbs, and lastly rural commuters spend a total of $4,272 commuting per year.
Another way to look at it is that 18 percent of the average person’s monthly budget is taken up in car maintenance, repairs, and gas—which of course, is greatly affected by our commute. Keep in mind that for the typical household, that can be more than food expenses. For those that drive, keep in mind that even working remotely just one day a week would save you 20 percent in gasoline costs alone.
The list of negative consequences related to commuting goes on and on. Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and economist Alan Krueger examined how commuting is tied to general feelings of unhappiness.
The idea isn’t just the commuting: it’s what commuting deprives us of, and that’s being able to spend time with our loved ones, in many cases.
“I was shocked to find how robust a predictor of social isolation commuting is,” Robert Putnam, a Harvard political scientist, told The New Yorker on the subject.
“There’s a simple rule of thumb: Every ten minutes of commuting results in ten per cent fewer social connections. Commuting is connected to social isolation, which causes unhappiness.”
What would you do with those extra hours?
For me, the 480 hours per year that I “get back” from not commuting, I’m able to utilize by spending more time with my family members, going to the gym to connect with friends, being able to have more time for reading, cooking, and playing a few soccer games here and there.
Time to forget the commute. Dream big–go virtual!
READ MORE: If you liked this post, you might like “2 Proven Practices for Better Remote Leadership”
Kim Sykes is a marketer and content creator at Edoc Service, Inc., a total virtual company.