A Lifetime of Work in Numbers

For much of the last century, our working lives have been dominated by the 9-to-5 grind. Recent research has broken down the average working life in numbers — highlighting how much time we spend in the office, commuting or waiting for the kettle to boil.

While the research data is more than a little depressing in terms of what it means for our work-life balance, the advent of new technology is evolving the way we approach work, so those numbers look set to be transformed.

Time in the Office

A huge amount of your life is likely to be spent in the workplace. Allowing for holidays, the average office worker will spend 82,068 hours at work over their lifetime, which amounts to 3,420 days or 9.4 years based on a working week of 35 hours. Yet new tech developments will see the time you actually spend in the workplace drop over the next few years, with remote working and working from home becoming more commonplace.

The major barrier to remote working has historically been the struggle to maintain communication between staff if they are working at separate locations. New communications technology has largely overcome this challenge, with email, conference calling, video conferencing and instant messaging all allowing employees to stay connected even when they are miles apart.

Even after the rise of e-communications, there were still problems with regularly working from home. Sharing and accessing any files needed to finish work was difficult to accomplish securely from a remote location. Portable equipment, such as tablets and laptops, combined with file sharing applications like Google Drive, iCloud and Dropbox have enabled even small businesses to empower their employees to work remotely.

For large or more established businesses, a virtual private network (VPN) further improves the ability of employees to work from home. A VPN allows authorised users to access a company’s network from an approved machine. It means that workers are able to work on up-to-date documents and immediately share them with colleagues.

The result of these developments will see a severe reduction in the number of hours spent in the office for a lot of workers. Some studies predict as much as 75% of work across the US will be carried out remotely by 2020. Figures are similar for the UK, with research showing that if flexi- and remote working options continue to grow at their current rate, over 50% of the country’s work force will be working remotely by 2020.

The Future of Commuting

No longer having to journey to and from the office every day will significantly reduce the hours spent commuting. Currently, the average UK worker will travel 216,932 miles commuting over the course of their life — a distance which would get you 91% of the way to the moon.

In addition to this mileage being sliced, with working from home doing away with much commuting time, new developments in transport will also transform our journeys to and from work.

With the advent of driverless cars, the commute can be transformed from time spent frustrated at the wheel to additional opportunity for working remotely. Being able to work on the commute, using a laptop, a 4G dongle and your company’s VPN, will lessen the time you need to spend away from home every day, as you can get started on the day’s work whilst travelling.

Although driverless cars are still a long way from being the norm, they are now in the advanced stages of testing, and have been out on the roads in both the UK and USA. They may become commonplace in time to make an impact on your working life.

The Cost of Commuting

Not only will the time and length of commuting be cut by new technology, it is also likely to have an impact on the cost of your journey to work. Currently driving a car to and from work throughout your working life will set you back £19,444 in fuel. With sales of diesel and petrol vehicles set to banned by 2040, this cost is going to change.

Electric alternatives to petrol and diesel cars will see expenses for powering your car drop significantly. To charge an electric car to travel 115 miles will cost you £3.64. Over the course of your working life, where you will journey an average of 216,932 miles, this amounts to just £6,677 — a two thirds (66%) saving compared to petrol and diesel cars.

From this data we can see that the advancement of technology will bring more change to our working life, but these changes look like they will be for the better — giving people greater freedom to choose their working environment and cutting down on commuting time and costs.

Alice Bonasio is a VR and Digital Transformation Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow @alicebonasio on Twitter.

Originally published at Tech Trends.