How Remote Work During the Pandemic Has Impacted Commuting
A recent Upwork survey shows that U.S. workers have saved more than $90 billion from not commuting since the start of the pandemic. Not surprisingly, even long before the pandemic, research has shown that flexible work plays a considerable role in employees’ job choices, with commute stress consistently being one of the top four factors why people want jobs with flexibility.
In the FlexJobs 2019 Annual Survey, 41% of respondents indicated that eliminating the pressures involved with commuting was a main reason for seeking flexible work. The other factors were time savings (42%), family (45%), and work-life balance (75%), all of which also tie in to potential time lost due to commuting to work.
And, when evaluating a job prospect, 51% of FlexJobs respondents indicated that location was one of the most important factors that they consider. This makes sense when you keep in mind the time lost in long commutes or the hours whittled away over time in shorter commutes.
Despite a very non-traditional year thus far, results from a recent FlexJobs survey have stayed true to past years, with 79% of respondents citing the absence of commuting as one reason why their lives have improved while working from home, and 72% of former commuters saying they enjoy the lack of commuting costs.
No Commute Is Among Remote Work’s Top Benefits
The consistency of the FlexJob survey’s findings over the years gives the new Upwork study even more weight. Not only does working from home and not having to commute save enormous amounts of time, but long commutes can zap workers’ energy and productivity. Remote work, just by taking the commute out of the equation, can improve work-life balance and overall happiness.
Upwork’s survey also helps to quantify the economic burden of commuting, pointing out that in 2018, the average amount of daily time employees spent commuting was nearly an hour (54.2 minutes). This represents 9.5 days a year simply getting back and forth to work—time spent commuting that has a significant impact on household finances, quality of life, and the environment.
Significant Time Savings Leads to Financial Savings
According to Upwork, people who are working remotely due to the pandemic are saving, on average, just under 50 minutes per day—or over four days a year—by avoiding a commute. The researchers noted that this also helps improve their carbon footprint and saves them money, estimating that post-COVID remote workers as a whole are saving nearly 33 million hours of car commutes daily.
Researchers put a price tag on the time savings as well, suggesting the value savings from less time spent driving at $12.50 per hour, or an aggregate savings of $411 million each day. In total, Upwork pegged the daily savings of post-COVID remote workers who formerly drove to work at $758 million, for a cumulative savings of over $90 billion since the pandemic began.
Cities Benefitting the Most From Going Remote
Not commuting is a compelling argument for remote work any way you slice it, but Upwork didn’t stop there. They also expanded their findings to determine the top 25 cities in the United States where people are benefitting the most from going remote, and saving the most time on their commutes. Leading the pack are:
- East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
- New York, New York; Newark, New Jersey; and Jersey City, New Jersey
- Washington, DC; Arlington, Virginia; and Alexandria, Virginia
- Vallejo, California and Fairfield, California
- San Francisco, California; Oakland, California; and Hayward, California
In East Stroudsburg, the mean savings time on commutes per day is a whopping 83.6 minutes, while in the New York and New Jersey areas, it’s 76.2 minutes. The San Francisco Bay Area commutes are close behind, at 70.2 minutes a day. This means that workers in these areas who have transitioned to remote work since the start of the pandemic are getting back more than an hour of time every day to focus on work, spend time with their families, or to just do something they love.
Reclaim Your Time
The benefits of remote work are extensive, but not having to commute to and from work is surely one of the most tangible. The time and money you save by working from home are worth their weight in gold when it comes to being able to find a work-life balance that truly works for you.
Ready for find a remote job that lets you ditch your commute once and for all? FlexJobs members have access to thousands of remote and flexible jobs in more than 50 career categories. Take the tour today and learn how FlexJobs can help you spend your time doing, not driving.
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