I once had a job that required me to travel 4+ hours every day. I knew when I accepted the position that I would have to commute; after all, I was living in Connecticut and all the super cool The Devil Wears Prada-esque magazine writing jobs were in New York City. I figured I would just deal with the commute by working on the train, answering emails, or at the very least, sleeping.
I quickly grew to hate my lengthy train commute. And I mean hate it. I felt so trapped on the train that I would take off my coat, even in the harsh NYC winters, because I felt so stifled. To make matters worse, I was traveling on off-peak hours, so my train went local, opening the doors at every single station. The uber-long commute was one of the main reasons why I decided to quit the job I loved in favor of working from home.
A few days into my new job working from home, I saw this video on YouTube about Japanese commuter trains and nearly lost my breath. Because there are so many workers trying to commute into their jobs—and so few trains—the well-dressed workers start to push themselves together on the platform even before the train has stopped. For those stuck at the back of the pack, Japan Rail has employed train staff to stand on the platform and physically push people onto the trains. There’s even a term for it: “Train Pushers.”
In retrospect, I shouldn’t have complained. The MetroNorth ran like clockwork, and I always got a seat.
But while watching a video like this might make your commute seem not so bad, commuting into an office job can still certainly stink. For one thing, it’s a huge waste of time. If you live in cities like New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Houston, Miami, Portland, or even Austin, expect to spend up to 80 hours a year delayed in traffic. That equals about two weeks of full-time work spent in traffic—and not getting paid for it!
Commuting is also costly. It’s estimated that every household with a car-commuting member loses about $1,700 a year in time and gas burned due to bumper-to-bumper traffic. And researchers predict that the annual cost of commuting will rise to $2,300 by the year 2030. (Between now and then, that will add up to about $2.8 trillion dollars.)
All of that lost time and money adds up to a whole lot of stress, which is what commuters deal with on a daily basis. On the other hand, people who work remotely have 25 percent lower stress levels. Being happier working from home carries over into other good habits, such as healthy eating. In fact, a whopping 73 percent of telecommuters report eating healthier when working from home.
That explains why nearly 75 percent of workers want a flexible schedule. Not only does having a flexible schedule eliminate all of your commuting costs, but it gives you something even more important—freedom. That freedom comes in the form of having extra time in the mornings and evenings during the hours you would typically be commuting to and from your job. Having workplace flexibility also allows you to have complete control over your schedule, giving you the opportunity to completely customize your schedule to meet the demands of the day.
So while you may be fortunate enough to not have a crazy commute like many Japanese workers do, that doesn’t mean you have to put up with your commute, either. Look into finding a flexible job, and find the freedom you’ve been searching for all along.
photo credit: thinkstockphotos.com