The cost, the stress and getting too close to strangers – we remember the ‘bad old days’ of the pre-2020 journey to work
Noses pressed close to other people on trains and metros, stuck in traffic jams, or watching the bus disappear into the distance just as you turn the corner. When you consider how we used to commute, at best it sounds antiquated and, at worst, downright miserable.
Consider this research from a few years ago, which found that commuters got fed up with their journey after just 13 minutes, with a third of those asked claiming they would take a pay cut if it meant they could work from home. Is it any wonder that remote working has been easily embraced by many professionals following the events of 2020?
Hopefully you’re sitting somewhere comfortable as you read this, having reclaimed your commute time. So why not take a few minutes to join us as we relive some of the horrors of the ‘bad old days’ of the pre-2020 commute? Here are five things we certainly don’t miss.
1. The expense
Commuting was expensive. Really expensive. According to a study of commuting costs, staying home saves the average US worker 200 hours and $6,449 annually in fuel, car maintenance and lost time. Depending on where you work, these costs could have been as high as $12,000 a year.
2. Missing out on friends and family time
We work so we can enjoy our leisure time, but almost 60% of the workers in one study of commuters complained that they had no time to pursue their own interests, including sports, clubs and outings with friends.
Your relationship was likely suffering, too – a decade-long study of two million married people in Sweden found that couples with long commutes (45 minutes or more) were 40% more likely to divorce than couples who never commuted.
3. Bad driving
According to the Royal Society of Public Health in the UK, 55% of commuters reported increased stress levels while getting to work, with the most common annoyance for drivers being the behaviour of other road users. It’s particularly alarming when you consider that 71% of road losers admitted to losing concentration at the wheel in the past year due to stress.
Perhaps the worst part is that, being stuck in a car, you were limited in how you could respond to the stress. Forget burying your nose in a book or closing your eyes for some calming meditation. Instead you had to wait until you arrived at the office to decompress – a far from ideal way to start your day.
A post-COVID world has us rethinking how close we want to be to strangers – not that we ever enjoyed it on our commutes to begin with. When asked what they most disliked about travelling by public transport in London, 52% cited overcrowding. During the heatwave of 2018, the London Underground was so hot, it was above the legal limit for transporting cattle – meaning uncomfortable journeys for the network’s five million daily passengers.
5. Being late
When you can arrive at your home office desk 30 seconds after finishing your breakfast, it’s hard to remember a time when being late was a part of your day. However, it happened – a lot. A pre-pandemic study of European commuters found that 63% of people were late to work once a month due to traffic, with nearly all commuters leaving for work early to avoid being late because of traffic hold-ups. That’s a lot of wasted time.
Like the sound of a world with less commuting? Find out how Spaces can help you and your business to work closer to home