Remote Zoo
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Remote Zoo

How Long is THE Perfect Commute?

Optimise your commute for life satisfaction

Every morning you step out your front door. Lungfuls of fresh air invigorate you as you take your first strides. You jump in a car, hop on a bus, saddle up. And, just like that, you’re off to complete another productive day at the office.

Let’s pray for an easy commute today. Not like yesterday.

Heaven forbid you encounter any incidents on the way — the immovable traffic jams, the red lights that seem to only affect you, or the bus driver that won’t stop no matter how vigorously you wave your arm.

What do you do on your way to work?

Do you read a book? Listen to a podcast? Plan your day? Or do you curse at the bus driver? Flip the bird at the BMW driver that cut you up? Worry about your 9am one-to-one?

You arrive at the office. You made it on time. Are you relaxed, calm, ready for a productive day? Or do you arrive flustered, stressed, already thinking about lunch?

Come in. Say hi to your co-workers. Sit down. Let’s get to work.

So, how long did your journey take today?

30 minutes? 60? 90? Longer?

Let’s extrapolate those numbers for dramatic effect…

A 30 minute commute will cost you 235 hours of your life every year. That’s almost two weeks of your year spent moving to and from the office.

If your commute takes you 90 minutes, expect to lose an entire month of 2018. An entire month! Imagine being locked in car for 30 days solid.

Happiness and wellbeing

Long commutes take a serious toll on us. The UK’s Office of National Statistics found that commuters are less happy than those that don’t commute.

Additionally, long commuters suffer from higher anxiety. That makes sense, long commutes are unpredictable and the longer the commute the higher the chances of something out of our control going wrong.

However, counter intuitively, people do not desire a zero commute either.

People talk of their commutes not being long enough. They enjoy moving and having somewhere to be. They enjoy having a separation between their work and personal lives. Maybe they’re lucky to have a relaxing commute or perhaps they are just happy to have some ‘me-time’ away from the kids.

The ideal commute

Every commute is a ritual that can alter our very sense of who we are and what is our place in the world

So if we enjoy commuting but don’t enjoy long commutes, what’s the ideal length? What would your ideal commute length be?

Redmond and Mokhtarian investigated this strange love-hate relationship we have with commuting. The pair asked over 1000 San Franciscans about their own commutes and in their answers the pair discovered the ideal commute time.

⏱ 16 minutes.

Not too long, not too short, just right. The Goldilocks of commutes.

Much longer than 16 minutes and our anxiety creeps up, our happiness dips and we lose a sense that our daily activities are worthwhile.

Much shorter and we have no barrier between our working lives and our home lives.

Hacking your commute

How close is your commute to the magic 16 minutes?

The obvious answer to reducing (or increasing) your commute time is moving house. Moving home is often expensive and very time consuming. However, in extreme cases, where people have very long commutes, moving home would drastically improve their life satisfaction. Moving just 15 minutes closer to your office would give you and your family back 16 working days a year.

Perhaps moving closer to the office is just out of the question. What about moving the office closer to your home?

Now unless you’re the CEO that’s not really feasible — unless you start working remotely.

With reliable Internet connections and amazing communication technologies, many jobs these days can be done outside HQ – in a home office, co-working space or cafe. A survey by TINYpulse found remote workers to feel happier and more valued than their cubicle counterparts. It’s no wonder if remote workers aren’t spending unnecessary hours commuting every day.

If the previous two options aren’t possible, a third solution to decreasing your commute is finding a new job. Ideally a remote job that gives you the flexibility to choose where to work.

Check out remote working websites such as…

Remote Zoo
Remotely Awesome Jobs
GoRemote.io
GoRemoteJobs
RemoteOK

(check out a full list here by @ajukco)

So in 2018, take steps to decrease your time spent commuting and radically improve your life satisfaction and which masochist doesn’t want that?

This blog post is the first in a series exploring our current attitudes towards 9-to-5 lifestyle.

Future posts will look at: why your 9-to-5 lifestyle is costing you much more than your last pay rise, active vs passive commutes, achieving flow through remote work, cutting commute for instantaneous life improvement, being part of a community as a remote worker, remote work and the environment.

Interested? Follow to get notified when future posts in the series are released.

References

Montgomery, Charles (2013). Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design.

Redmond, Lothlorien and Mokhtarian, Patricia, (2001), The positive utility of the commute: modeling ideal commute time and relative desired commute amount.

Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

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