Let’s start by making the understatement of the century — the last year has been hard.
COVID-19 has turned the entire world upside down, and so many of us have lost family members and friends to this terrible disease. It’s also forced us to change so many of our daily habits and live our lives in a completely different manner.
But for all of the negatives, there have been some positive things to come of this pandemic. One of which is way more people have been working from home for the past year, avoiding the exhausting, stressful, time-consuming, and toxic-for-the-environment commutes that tens of millions of Americans have suffered through day in and day out for years. The future of remote work has greatly improved over the last year.
As freelancers, we already know how great it is to work from home, but now, millions of Americans have gotten a taste of the good life too — and they don’t want to go back. Telecommuting will likely continue long after the pandemic, and for good reason.
Numerous studies have found that commuting is one of the biggest sources of stress for adults, and with the average commute getting longer each year, it’s easy to see why workers want to stay remote. Time spent behind the wheel stuck in traffic is time lost — time not spent with family and friends, partaking in a hobby, enjoying a delicious meal, getting things done around the house, or just relaxing.
As we approach the one-year anniversary of the pandemic forcing millions of Americans to start working from home, we got to thinking — exactly how much time has the average person saved by not having to commute over the last 12 months?
Using US Census Bureau data, we studied the commute times in 152 major cities across the country. What we found was shocking. The average American has saved over a week – 8.6 days – of time stuck behind the wheel driving to and from work over the last 12 months.
And for those of us who are already freelancers, that’s how much time we get back every year by not having to work in an office!
Sure, the last year has been anything but fun. But getting more than a week of your life back by not having to commute is certainly a silver lining for many workers.
So, how did we arrive at the amount of time people have saved by not commuting over the last year?
The first thing we had to do was calculate how many days the average person works in a year. There are 52 weeks in a year, and the typical full-time employee works 5 days a week. That comes out to 260 working days in a full calendar year, but you also have to factor in vacation time and sick days. Recent studies show that the average American worker takes 17.2 days off work each year. So that means the average American works about 242.8 days each year.
After coming up with that number, we used US Census Bureau data on average commute times for cities and towns across America. From there, it was simple math.
The map embedded above is totally interactive and covers over 150 cities and towns across the US. If you’re curious about how many days you saved over the last year by not having to commute to work, just zoom in on the map to your area, click the nearest dot, and check out the data in the box that pops up! You can also enter your city in the search bar at the top of the map to find data for your area.
Note for mobile users: The map may display better if you flip your device horizontally.