When I was working at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, my friend Clint and I commuted. Not every day, but it could have been, had we not been pains in our boss’ you-know-where.
Our jobs could easily be done from home, except for those rare occasions when we needed to go in to install or replace hardware. FYI: We developed, designed, and ultimately operated the world’s largest IP-based video conferencing service at the time, in the early 2000s.
Our typical commute day went like this:
Up at 5 a.m., shower, dress, eat. Clint arrives outside my house at 5:50 a.m. (This was a critical time, because if we left after 6 a.m., traffic was horrid.) We decided what car to take, then piled our stuff into that car and took off.
Hitting Interstate 205 by 6 a.m. — hopefully with coffee — we joined the crowd until we hopped off in Livermore at Collier Canyon Road. We both love the back roads and several times drove them completely. We wangled our way to Interstate 680 north and then to Route 24, hopping off at Fish Ranch and then Grizzly Peak.
We slowly made our way to the back of the lab and to work. By the time we walked up thousands of stairs to our offices, it was, normally, between 8 and 8:30 a.m.
At 5 p.m., we reversed our course, arriving in Tracy between 7 and 7:30 p.m. — assuming there were no accidents, no cows in the road, etc.
Four to five hours per day were wasted driving to a central work location where we did exactly the same thing we could do from home or a coworking location. The only difference was that we were present (and tired) in the meetings — rather than joining in, refreshed, by video conferencing.
Let’s look at doing this 50 weeks a year for 20 years. How much time are you taking out of your life by commuting?
Assume five hours commuting per day, five days a week. That is 25 hours per week — one full day of your life.
Fifty weeks a year, 1,250 hours per year — 52 full days of your life. Multiply that by 20 years and you get 25,000 hours — 1,041 full days of your life.
Try to get that back. You can’t.
- Mike Pihlman has been a Tracy resident since 1985. He co-wrote the first telecommuting plan at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1990. He practices what he preaches at AltamontCowork in Tracy.