Commuting to work is robbing us of our happiness. The average commute for the American worker is 27.6 miles one way, which equates to a one-hour round trip on days with minimal traffic. And in more congested cities, it can be two or three times that amount of time.
Why Do People Commute for Work
Better opportunities and higher salaries draw people into the city to work. But few people enjoy the hustle and bustle of city life, opting to settle in suburbs and bedroom communities instead. These commuters take trains, cars, and buses into the city for work so that they can enjoy the best of both worlds.
A range of commuters from the extreme travel multiple hours in one direction or even fly across the country to live in a city during the workweek to those who take trains, cars, and buses into the city for a daily commute. It is a way of life perpetuated by the dichotomy of lifestyle choices and work opportunities for most people.
How the Stress of Commuting Affects Our Happiness
The most notable effect of a long commute is regularly feeling negative emotions. These ill feelings creep into every facet of life. This stress can lead to depression, low job satisfaction, and much more. One study conducted in 2006 demonstrated that participants felt more negative feelings during their daily commute than during any other activity in their day.
And the negative effects aren’t just on the employees. Those with longer commutes tend to have more absences—hurting productivity. And when they do come to work, they bring the stress of their commute into the office which hurts team morale. So it benefits the company to participate in mitigation efforts to reduce commute times when possible.
TailoredSpace is changing the way that companies work by providing flexibility and technology to match the way that people want to live and work. Our offices are embracing suburban neighborhood life instead of drawing commuters into big city leased offices. Learn more today.
Tips for Improving Your Commute Time
If you are a commuter, you have two options. You can either get rid of the commute or improve the experience. Assuming that you are happy with your home or job despite the commute, there are some things that can make the trip less stress-inducing. For one, don’t drive. If you have the option to take a bus or train, you can also use that time to passively consume enjoyable content. Reading a book or listening to a podcast seems to be the most popular alternatives for making a long commute more enjoyable.
Walking or riding a bike can also improve your mood by releasing endorphins. And these feel-good neurotransmitters can also improve focus and increase productivity in the office. This won’t fix the problem for everyone. But if you live within a short distance and would normally drive, active travel can help you beat the commuter blues.
If driving is unavoidable, the best way to deal is to develop a routine that incorporates things you love. A favorite podcast or a delicious cup of coffee are good positive-emotion-eliciting items that can boost your mood and counteract the stresses of the daily drive. If you respond well to music, create a commuting playlist to jam to during heavy traffic.
Make the most of your commute time with these tips:
- Plan and prep the night before.
- Listen to relaxing classical or meditative music.
- Choose blood-glucose-stabilizing snacks for the drive like bell peppers and nuts.
- Get good sleep.
- Use aromatherapy air fresheners in the car.
- Do neck stretches on the train or in the car.
Related: 10 Benefits of Living Close to Work
Options for Abandoning the 9-5 Shuffle
The most radical solutions for getting rid of the commute are quitting a job or moving closer to it. And some situations make each of those the best option. But individual circumstances vary, and now that remote working has been widely adopted by many employers, we know these are not the only options.
Remote-only and hybrid working arrangements have been pushed to the forefront thanks to a global pandemic that favored social distancing as the best method for protecting public health. More employers than ever before are embracing the concept of remote working to build more productive and diverse teams.
In fact, up to three-quarters of the workforce will likely remain in a remote or hybrid position well after the pandemic and its mitigations have ended. This means for those who wish to shed the commute; there will be plenty of options for working remotely.
Alt text: group meeting in an office
The social aspect of the office is the biggest draw among employees who aren’t interested in remote working. However, modern coworking spaces are solving that issue by providing flexible office space in the suburbs. Now companies and employees can have the best of both worlds.
According to recent studies, employees tend to be 35–40% more productive when working remotely, and we think a large chunk of that productivity comes from reducing commute-related stress. This means the company will enjoy fewer quality defects and customer complaints due to engaged, happy workers. Companies also enjoy less turnover when they offer flexible working arrangements as it is becoming increasingly more common. Up to 54% of employees say they will change jobs if a new employer offers more flexibility.
The Bottom Line
The negative effects of commuting to work are well-documented, and the added stress is taking years off of our lives. Most of us don’t enjoy fighting our way through heavy traffic as we all try to funnel our way into the cities and arrive at jobs—that many of us don’t like to begin with. The stress of the daily commute often sets the tone for our entire day, leading to dozens of stress-related health problems like hypertension, inflammation, depression, and anxiety. Many workers are choosing to transition to remote and hybrid positions to improve their work-life balance and get rid of the energy-sucking commutes.
TailoredSpace is reimagining the modern office. From coworking spaces to flexible leasing, we are breaking boundaries in the modern workforce. Employers can give their staff more freedom to work in the office or at home with our flexible arrangements. Get started today.