Networking

Is your work commute a stressor for you?


I read somewhere that these are the top ten life stressors:


1. Death of spouse
2. Divorce
3. Marital separation
4. Jail term
5. Death of a close family member
6. Personal injury or illness
7. Marriage
8. Fired at work
9. Marital reconciliation
10. Retirement


While I would agree with all of these, I would also add my own--the daily commute.
On an average day I have a 45 minute commute to work and from work. I say on average because any number of factors that can stretch that out to an hour or more each way. Certainly, any kind of precipitation in our neck of the woods sends our local commuters into "I-forgot-how-to-drive" panic. Let a light rain fall, and it looks like a demolition derby on our highways and byways. I have seen the sun rising over the horizon throw everyone into craziness. Really. Apparently, that big orange ball coming up in the morning sky is totally unexpected for some people.


Of course, traffic stress, even cumulative over a period of years, doesn't compare to most of those items in the list above., but I also think its effect is underestimated. I'm the type of person who enjoys being in an office environment, but if I weren't, I think I would pursue a telecommuting relationship.  What is your company's stand on telecommuting? Some companies allow it if your commute is 50 miles or over. Some don't allow it at all, even if your job isn't dependent on office equipment or co-worker input. I would be interested in hearing from telecommuters who have benefited from the arrangement, and I would be interested in hearing from managers who object to telecommuting and find out what they're reasons are.

 

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

51 comments
chetanvmody
chetanvmody

I learnt this from my sister who had to drive 1-hr each way every day. Borrow a book-on-tape or book-on-CD from library and listen to it while driving. They are available on all sorts of subjects - fiction and non-fiction. Although my commute is for just 15-min, I started on it - and you won't believe, sometimes it gets so interesting, that I continue listening to it (for couple of more minutes) even after reaching the destination. Do try this - you will love it.

z13ues
z13ues

As an IT person let me say it truely is a stress builder. I have an hour and 45 one way commute each day and believe me it wears on a person. The only positives is I like my job and I make a decent salary.

Andy-B
Andy-B

Traveling takes time, but if I don't answer my cell its the only time of the day that I am not interrupted and can be alone. I look forward to the time.

alanobrien31
alanobrien31

For some people commuting may not be a bad thing, but i have to say it sucks.Spent the last 2 years in different jobs driving to work, which was supposed to be 45 mins away but could take up to 2 hours if the weather was bad, a crash occured etc..., so on some occasions i was spending nearly 3 hours to get to and from work. I've finally got a job in the city i was so wreaked from it. Now i spend 20 mins getting to and from work and this company also allow their employees to work from home a couple of days a week. My whole life has changed because of this as i have more time to do stuff in the evenings. Will never take a job again in which i have to travel more than 30 mins to to work.

gerberb58
gerberb58

Forever in my past, I commuted to work. Sometimes 25mins, sometimes 2 1/2hrs. 3 years ago I went full time (for the most part) telecommute. I could not believe how much more I could get done! It was amazing and perfect. Then, of course, some idiot at corp desides that we need to go back to the 1970's. WHAT A MORON. Oh my god, I HATED IT. My productivity dropped in half, I was cranky all the time and just plain miserable. Within a year, I left. I cannot believe that these idiots ever go anywhere in their career. GROW UP - EVERY COMPANY NEEDS A TELECOMMUTE PROGRAM - get the cars off the road, quit giving the diaperheads money to kill us with, increase productivity and worker loyality with one easy command. If your employer does not have some type (at least part time, start one. If all a worker does is drive, sit in front of a PC, talk on the phone, and drive - get rid of the drive/drive part. What thimbal full of brains does it take to figure that out. I know someone that can't fill that requirement...plain and simple, wasteful IDIOTS.

adeal
adeal

I can't complain.

maxwell edison
maxwell edison

.....especially when I walk to my office. (I can walk there in 30 minutes if I don't lollygag.)

DMambo
DMambo

...but since I'm in my "Christmas spirit", I'll do it anyway. I have a 12-minute commute through the beautiful Vermont countryside. There are a couple of spots along the way where the view is incredible. And to top it off, I drive west in the morning and east in the evening so the sun's always at my back. If I have to wait for 3 cars to pass at an intersection, I call that a traffic jam. Sorry!

wallowamichael
wallowamichael

I used to live in San Francisco and take public transit every day to various client sites. One to 1.5 hours each side of the day. Now I live in rural Oregon, commute 12 miles/20 minutes in the morning and evening. (Sometimes I still miss the sun on each side, due to the mountains ;) ) Three cars is a traffic jam here, too.

Shellbot
Shellbot

its just not fair.. a couple years ago i lived a 4 min walk form work..god i miss that

maecuff
maecuff

is between 5 - 7 minutes, depending on the traffic lights. Of course, now that we're on strike, I have to drive (4 minutes) to our main plant, park there and then have our hired security drive me to my facility (7 - 9 minutes). It's such a pain. And I can't go home for lunch anymore. All in all, the picketers cause a lot more stress than the commute.

jdclyde
jdclyde

like the peaceful union workers would ever do or say anything disrespectful? After all, we keep hearing how unions are so great, right? keep your head down. Ever change your mind about that side job? :D

maecuff
maecuff

Just can't bring myself to do it. Although, every day that I come in here, I get one day closer to selling out. Of course, that second job would require no commute at all. I'd save at least 15 minutes each day. And at 12.99 per minute, that could add up. :)

alix.dobkowski
alix.dobkowski

I commute 90 minutes to work as a temporary solution following a long-distance move, although my arrangement is such that I telecommute twice a week. The commute itself, although I would agree with the original post about other drivers, isn't all that bad. What bugs me the most is that when I don't drive in, I feel I have to work twice as hard as my face-time co-workers do to "prove I'm working". The result is that I am working or driving, all the time. But I guess it beats living in a third-world backwater, right?

Jshee42
Jshee42

I commute 35 miles to get to work. It comes out to approximately 45 minutes of mostly (not terribly crowded) highway. Most of the time I'm in a carpool. I was lucky enough to find 3 great people to drive with. I'll admit that sometimes I miss the privacy, but to save almost $150 a month on gas and 1150 miles of wear and tear on my car, it's worth it.

Kellster
Kellster

I live 1.1 miles from work. 5 minutes through a small city and park off street. However even then sometimes I have a little stress because the drivers in Massachusetts are the worst in the world. Dangerous in fact.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Massachusetts drivers are the worst in the world? Really?? Based on what? I'm not suggesting they are angels. But at least in the US, Canada, Europe, there are driving tests and you have to be licensed. Surely there are places in the world where this isn't the case and the accident rate is higher. In fact I saw a reference to study that showed poorer countries had more accidents, and the fact that they had poorer roads, fewer lights etc somehow makes some sense. There are lots of dangerous places to drive in the world. My father, who had defensive driving courses for his work some time ago, will not drive in Toronto. I have heard all kinds of stories about traffic in Bejing, Hong Kong, and other asian countries where it sounds crazy and dangerous. James James

imanix
imanix

The city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is known for a variety of reasons, each one as outlandish as the next, but for the commuters of Dubai, it is the extremely stressful journey to work which ~99% of the population has to bear due to insufficient road infrastructure, high rents and population boom; the visionaries of Dubai never considered these factors when they started planning the world's tallest/biggest/most upmarket ventures. An average commute time would be 90 minutes/direction,the surprise is it is over an average distance of

PoconoChuck
PoconoChuck

For the last 2 years I've worked for a company that informally permits telecommuting, and I take advantage of it about once per week. My commute is 105 miles, each way, so I know well what you speak of regarding people who are amazed at the sight of the sun. My workday runs 6:30 to 3:30. I've done this daily commute for 10 years; the price I pay to permit a stay-at-home mom for 2 kids in a rural community. To those who think that work and commute is all I have time to do, I am my son's Scout leader and I practice Martial Arts 2 nights each week. I use my evening commute to unwind; my spouse rarely (if ever) hears of the days nonsense at the office, because by the time I get home I forget about. I disagree that there's a cumulative stress to commuting; listening to music, talk radio, books on tape and it becomes an outlet. It is what you make of it, like anything else. Of course, both one should enjoy driving AND know how to drive (unlike so many on the road).

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

So 3.5-4 hours of sitting on your butt doing nothing is okay with you. You say your workday runs from 6:30-3:30, is that the time you leave home and arrive back, or the time you walk in the door at work to the time you leave? If the first, must be nice to have a 6 hour work day. If the latter, well, doesn't leave much leisure time, does it? I have a 30 minute commute to work. So I'd say you have a roughly 6 times greater chance of being in an accident than I do. Due to your distance, you're probably traveling at a high rate of speed for most of the trip. I only hope your family has a nice life insurance policy on you because they'll probably be collecting on it in the near future.

jdclyde
jdclyde

my shortest drive is an hour each way, and the longest is three hours each way. I don't mind driving, provide I am not stuck in traffic. If I were doing the hour for 15 mile commute that many in the bigger cities do, it would drive me nuts. I tend to take the back routes to avoid the traffic, and just make sure I rotate my CD's every few days. After Christmas, I will be putting in my new multidisk changer and the player with the remote control. I mean, how cool is that to have a remote control for your car stereo so you don't have to reach forward and actually touch it? B-)

scottyc2005
scottyc2005

I had a telecommuting job for a year which was nice. No worries about commuting and all the problems that go with it. Then my company decided they wanted me to move to Atlanta from Colorado because they don't want people working from home anymore. I just started a new job where I have to commute in the Denver/Boulder CO area and Iremember how much I hated commuting the last time I had to.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

My commute time depends on my calls. It can run anywhere from 45 minutes (32 miles, 17 of those on rural interstate) to 3 hours (to Myrtle Beach). Where most people just point the car and hit the gas, I actually drive, so it's work. But it's relaxing work.

onbliss
onbliss

My 3miles+ commute is sweet. I also enjoyed my earlier 30/40 minute drives to work as I could listen to lots of talk+public radio. But I might just get tired driving 105 miles each way. Driving on treacherous roads would make it stressful though. BTW: I heard death of a Kid is one of the most horrible things.

bassizzzt
bassizzzt

My work commute is about 30 miles each way. We actually carpool and we're a social bunch. The ride into work is pleasant. We crack jokes on the way and have a good time making faces at people who still have Kerry bumperstickers.

bg6638
bg6638

When I was working as an IT Mgr/JOAT, I had a solid 45 minute commute one way. I found it to be of advantage for several reasons: 1) I could plan my day on the way in 2) I could unwind from a busy day on the way home 3) I usually worked from 7:30am to 8:30pm, so I was spared late nite call backs due to the distance 4) It was "the" reason to implement a VPN my 2 cents.............

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

For me, my commute is short (thankfully), but it gets worse all of the time. Especially cause of stupid F***s on the damned road. I really wish it were legal to run these dumba$$es off the road, cause they really deserve it. Too bad I dont have a car eraser, to erase some of these dumba$$es from being anywhere near me. I have been close to accidents several times a day because of them. Heck, just this morning a utility truck cut me off and slammed on its brakes, and then there was a guy in the carpool lane, that couldnt stay in his lane and would have sideswiped me if I had not swerved. It is like playing dodgeball out there these days, and I am not a stupid driver, they just seem to target me. If I thought that I could get away with it, I would mount a M-60 to my truck, and have a targeting system to shoot dumba$$es tires out. Or at least a directed EMP charge at their batteries. Luckily, it is only 30-45 minutes of hating everyone on the road for me. And no, it is not anger issues, this is from needing to constantly be on the lookout for that dumba$$. If I am staying in a lane, and going the appropriate speed, and slowing when I see turn signals, etc. I shouldnt be dodging a$$holes all the time. Please, no offense to the responsible drivers here.

SlappyMcnasty
SlappyMcnasty

I ride my bike, 7-10 miles each way. Takes about 35 - 45 minutes from out my door to my desk including taking a shower. I live in Minneapolis and bike as long as it is above 0 degrees. I carry a laptop, and my work clothes (business dress, shirt and tie). It is at worst 5 minutes longer than driving and parking.

Tink!
Tink!

When I lived 15 miles away from work I [b]hated [/b]the drive. It took 30-40 minutes to get through all the rush-hour traffic and stoplights and trains to get to and from work. Now that I live 50+ miles away and take 55- 60 minutes to get work I [b]love[/b] the drive! It's a nice straight drive through the countryside (on the tollway) which allows me to unwind and think in peace! My dad on the other hand had the worst commute I've ever heard of. 3-4 days out of EVERY week he had to drive up to Michigan (he lives in Illinois) and then once up there he had to drive like another 100 some miles to get to another location. I believe he's finally out of that which is good...you could really see how badly it was draining him.

DanLM
DanLM

It's usually bumper to bumper, but it doesn't really bother me unless the weather is bad or the sun has set, or both. Lol. I have bad eye site, and I hate driving when it's dark and raining. The bright headlights just about blind me some days. When it rains and it's dark its even worse for me. The highway is blacktop, and the lines are in need of being painted. I have real issues seeing them when it's like that. I just bury myself in the middle of the pack those days, and stress out all the way. I haven't made this commute yet in serious snow, so I have no idea how it will be for that. Chuckle, probably like any other commute in snow. Look out for the SUV idiots that think they are the god's of the highway and can do anything they want. Dan

Inkling
Inkling

When I was living in the Norfolk, VA area the commute was HELL. I lived 22 miles from my workplace and it often took over an hour. I actually lived in Newport News and worked in Norfolk so I had the pleasure of driving through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. The speed limit was 55, but for some reason when people hit the tunnel they had to SLAM on their brakes and go 25-30. When I got there in early 2002 there was massive construction. I left several months ago and there was STILL massive construction. Hardly any progress was made in the four years I was there. I couldn't even take the top down on my Jeep most days because sitting in a traffic jam with the top down in a tunnel is suffocating. Now, however, I live 8 miles from work and the drive is ~15 minutes with very little traffic. I leave the house at 9:30 and am home by 6:30 at the latest every day. It has made a HUGE difference in my day. The only complaint I have about a short commute is that badly timed commercials will completely kill my talk-radio experience for the day. Edit: brakes not breaks...ha!

JamesRL
JamesRL

I definately have a fair amount of stress in the commute. Its not only a factor of distance and time (40 kms each way, 45 mins to 90 mins each way), its the traffic and conditions. In the last three years, I've been rear ended twice and had a few close calls. Almost every day there is at least a 5 to 15 minute period where I am either stopped or crawling along at a walking pace. I would take public transit if it was more or less the same amount of time. Before this job I was contracting downtown, and went about the same distance, but the commuter train was a 5 minute walk from the office, and so I was in heaven. But my current work place would require 3 transfers to get here from home, and it really isn't feasible or financially doable. I have a neighbour who worked not far from my office, and he found a new job that would allow him to work from home rather than continue the commute. Ironically I have staff who live near me, but can on occasion work from home. James

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

each way on public transport everyday. It's not as bad as it sounds, though it makes for a long day, up at 06:00, home for 21:20. Usually have a snooze on the train or read a book. I've even been known to do a bit of work. :D My main beef is the cost, distinct possibility of being able to telecommute next year, I'm lobbying, offering sexual favours and threats of extreme violence as appropriate anyway. Is this another possible indicator of my lack of dedication ?

mjd420nova
mjd420nova

My commute is usually confined to travel home at the end of the day. I start with a short travel to the office and FEDEX of only a half hour, but the field calls get progressivly farther out and by the end of the day I'm over 100 miles away from home. At least by that time most of the traffic is headed the other way. I manage the stress with music and pounding on the steering wheel. The truck is leased so the wear and tear doesn't affect my own car. Out the door by 7 AM but seldom get back home by 6 PM. Everyone works so the attack cat has the job of maintaining order. The mail man left a note last week that the cat had attacked his hand thru the mail slot when he delivered. I guess he gets bored and wants to play.

Tig2
Tig2

Easiest way to dissuade the attack cat from clawing up your postal carrier. My girls will play for hours... or until they hide the balls under the fridge and kill the furry mouse. I have mostly been working from home lately but used to have a 56 mile commute (one way)- even in MN winter. Lived near St Cloud and worked in Shoreview. Moved closer in and the next month my contract ended. I learned to commute in So Cal driving from the burbs to LA. Reinforced that knowledge when I moved to San Diego. I have learned that there is nothing you can do about the drive, stupid drivers, or traffic. I have a handy lecture recorder that I use to organise the next day.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

when anybody comes to the door. He's a 15 lb monster but the scarediest cat I ever saw!

Master_Techie
Master_Techie

I feel jelous of all of you guys who do telecommute. My manager does not allow any of us to work from home unless you go "plead, beg, and present your case personally" with him. Even when he allows you to work from home one day, he would require an email with details of items you are going to work on, and at the end of the day, another email with a status of things you have completed. So we try our best to avoid these confrontations. I guess that is what he wants too. He is an old-schooler. It's funny that with his 21 years of experience in the same position, he just recently got a laptop and doesn't know how to VPN into the network and check his email. Go figure!!!

poundjd
poundjd

I live in PA and Work in DC. I telecommute from home 3 days a week. Two days a week, I get up at 3:30am, leave the house at 4:15, I drive about 40 miles, to catch a bus, to catch a train to work, I get there around 7:00am. Between Bus and Train it costs me that time line is a little longer in the evening because of traffic. Mornings are fairly consistent at 2:45; evenings are fairly consistent at just under 3:15. That is a 6 hour chunk of time. I ride the bus because it is fairly low stress, cost efficient. I spend the time on the train and on the bus reading. I find that on my telecommuting days, I am much more productive than when I am in the office. I am an IT security engineer. I work with a lot of policy documents and when I am in the office I get caught up in local fires that I don?t get caught up in when I am at home. A home office is really key to making this work for me. I have everything there that I need. Especially a good chair, desk, computer, all setup so that I can get my work done. When the wife and 4 kids start making too much noise (she home schools them) I just shut my door. When I take a break I get to see the wife and kids instead of talking to coworkers, very stress reducing! If you can telecommute, and your activities at work permit it, I highly recommend it! I got 18 hours a week back when I started. -jeff

florida_kes
florida_kes

I guess I've been lucky...the longest commute I have had was 45 minutes when the company I was with decided to build a new corporate HQ building in another county. Several jobs later and my commute is down to 15 minutes which is still a waste of 2.5 hours of my life each week (which I'll never get back), but I'll deal with it.

PoconoChuck
PoconoChuck

It's what you make of it... for 4 years I rode a Trailways bus for 2 hours each way to NYC. In the mornings I slept, in the evenings I read or listened to music. In the evenings I could stay up fairly late. Now as a driver, there's music, talk radio, books on tape, and cell phone (yes, I use hands-free, no I don't believe it affects my driving). If you have a small commute, terrific. If not, you make the most of it. Rarely do I consider all of my ride 'wasted time'.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

Everything going on in your car that eats up processing cycles in your brain detracts from your ability to safely operate your vehicle. This includes talk radio, music, book tapes, or unwinding from work. I spent 22 years in the transportation field, read (and wrote) way too many accident reports. Several things I learned along the way: 1. YOU WILL HAVE AN ACCIDENT. The more you drive, the more likely you'll have one, and the more likely you'll have more than one (assuming you survive the first one). The better driver you are, the longer it may be before you have one, and the more you may be able to mitigate the damages when it does happen, but it will happen. 2. The major factor in your accident will either be alcohol, or fatigue, or both. You may not be the one who's drunk, the other driver may be, but if you're driving for more than an hour at a stretch, you're becoming fatigued and your reaction time to others mistakes is also impaired. 3. It only takes a fraction of a second of distraction to do it. A loud or strange noise, a flash of light, pushing a button on the radio, an insect inside your car, an eye lash, or a sneeze and you're off the road, rolling over at 70 mph just before impacting a tree. 4. You have any idea of how many deer strikes there are in the Poconos (or anywhere else for that matter) every year? Odocoileus virginianus really ought to be classified as a mass murderer and domestic terrorist.

PoconoChuck
PoconoChuck

At the risk of starting a new thread... Having seen men shaving, women farding, people of either sex eating bowls of cereal, moms reaching over the seat to tend to children in the back, men reading the NY Times, and a whole slew of other examples of bad drivers out there, I must disagree that cell phones make bad drivers. Bad drivers make bad drivers. If you wish to increase the penalties for reckless (a/k/a distracted) driving, I will endorse any such measure. That would cover those idiots above I described AND people who cannot talk and drive at the same time. But to single out cell phones users is simply not right. And I have 10 years of 1,200 miles/week of commuting to back that up.

florida_kes
florida_kes

...in that it allows you to be flexible with that "free" time you have while travelling. "...music, talk radio, books on tape, and cell phone..." But don't you see? Unless that's all you would have been doing while you were NOT driving, then it still counts as wasting ones life. You're just keeping your mind occupied while driving, but that's all you're doing. "(yes, I use hands-free, no I don't believe it affects my driving)." As a avid life-long motorcycle rider, I can safely attest to the fact that YES IT DOES AFFECT YOUR DRIVING.

onbliss
onbliss

...it boils down to how we use the time. But one thing is that it gets you away from the family.

jcolegrove
jcolegrove

The last post indicated it was a chance to unwind...agreed if the drive is rural...but since most senior IT positions are based in one the 15 large metro traffic area, the commute is mostly bumper-to-bumper. My commute...58 miles through downtown Boston..thank goodness I get to do Fridays from home. I find it more productive than my office, can focus on weekly reports, and avoid the interruptions.

PoconoChuck
PoconoChuck

For the last two years I've commuted from rural Pennsylvania to northeastern NJ (15 miles outside of Manhattan). The prior 8 years was through Philadelphia city limits and into southern New Jersey. I get my share of bumper-to-bumper traffic, believe me. Only about 45 minutes or so of my ride is rural.

Shellbot
Shellbot

We moved out of Dublin 4 years ago, to a live of commutting. Up at 6:30, out the door at 7:20, into work at 9:00. Leave work at 5:00, back in house at 6:20-ish. About 3 hours a day spent walking and on trains. My husband works even further out, and he doesn't get home untill 6:35-ish. As we both commute, we have no stay at home person to look after the house so we have to do it all after dinner (which is rarely eaten before 7:30).. I'm exhausted. What i would do for a sleep in.. We've tried making the best of it, but its affecting every part of our lives. So we are selling our house and moving back to the city.... I can't wait to get my life back!

millenium_komal
millenium_komal

I get-up at 7, leave for office at 8 and reach there at around 9:15. Whole day at desk I try to leave max by 7 in the evening. Then starts the battle on the road! The roads are packed. Everyone is in more hurry this time, and it is 9 when i reach home. Almost double than the morning! But I still find it interesting next morning... Looking at the sky and making a move in the same direction every morning with a new set of courage is I love!

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