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My Commute is Killing Me. Or is it?

Roundabout Thanksgiving last year, I received a clever email which immediately captured my attention. The sender was citing a recent poll in which people were asked, “If you could remove ONE thing from your life what would it be?” To my surprise, he suggested the #1 answer was, “My Daily Commute”.

Given my background in research, I immediately became curious about the legitimacy of this poll. Had commuting really evolved to point of being the most despised aspect of people’s lives?  What about taxes, novelty ringtones, mosquitoes or the 14 second delay between Netflix episodes?

I responded to the email and asked for copy of the study only to find it was just something the sender had heard on the radio. Oy vey!

That was it, though. My wheels were already spinning, and I determined to launch our own survey about commuting and its impact on well-being.

Anecdotally, I was well aware commuting was registering higher and higher on the career move decision tree. It was time to ask some real questions on the subject. We built a ten-question survey, shared it online, and received 284 responses that uncovered some interesting sentiments.

Interesting and noteworthy

  1. People would rather go grocery shopping, clean the house, or do home repairs over commuting to and from work.

  2. The most common activities for people to engage in while commuting include:
    • listening to music
    • mentally preparing for the day
    • listening to podcasts
    • checking in with family and friends
    • listening to audiobooks
  3. The most enjoyable forms of commuting were cycling, walking and carpooling. The least enjoyable forms were public transport and driving alone.

  4. The most interesting and relevant findings surrounded commute times and their connection to perceived quality of life.
    • Commutes of 16 minutes or less were identified as actually adding to a quality of life.
    • Commutes times of 32 minutes or less were rated as somewhat neutral -- they neither added or detracted from quality of life.
    • Commutes of 48 minutes or more we almost always viewed as detracting from life quality.

The Key Takeaways

  • Commuting isn’t always bad. Short commutes can add to people’s quality of life.
  • People who commute for 45 minutes or more may experience an impact on their quality of life which could impact job satisfaction.

A Few Questions to Consider

As an employer, what resources do you have at your disposal to help mitigate the challenges often experienced with longer commutes? Options could include increasing remote working options, offering Audible subscriptions, and/or creating parking allocations.

As a commuter, where are the opportunities for you to re-engineer or leverage your commute to increase your quality of life and job satisfaction? Ideas could include carpooling or establishing meaningful commuting activities. 



Peter Reek

CEO + Founder

Peter founded Smart Savvy as a response to a gap in the recruitment industry. As a leader, entrepreneur, and specialist in group moderation and facilitation, Peter brings an experienced, people-first perspective. He passionately believes that in work and life, People are the Plan™.




smart_savvy_logo_CMYK_REV_with NEW red box-3Smart, Savvy + Associates are experts in helping marketing and communications leaders find people and develop teams that thrive and deliver inspiring results. As a people performance company, we specialize in finding marketing and communications talent in the Pacific North West. We also offer training programs for leaders and teams as well as options to become a certified coach or get coached.

Peter Reek

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