#122 – Inside Our Industry – Has the New Age of Remote Work Made a Dent in Commute Times?

Posted on | Inside Our Industry

We have shared in past issues of Inside Our Industry about the increase in remote working due to the pandemic. While remote working is a great benefit to those that have a job conducive to it, the benefit to those who still have to drive to work is also evident by their decreased commute times. Following, in part, is a great article that looks at commute time across the country since 2020. Click on the link at the end for the full report, including several graphs and charts.

Has the New Age of Remote Work Made a Dent in Commute Times?
September 22, 2022  |  Ioana Ginsac  |  CommercialCafe.com

Although remote work was not unheard of prior to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, the ample wave that rose in 2020 continues to ripple through the national workscape. And, although there is still some debate regarding a fully flexible future of work, the movement has so far brought certain undeniable benefits: Whether it has to do with evolving energy costs, health concerns, or investing that time toward more issues of personal value, cutting down on at least some of the previous commute time has been highly appreciated.

But, how much did things actually change? To find out if an increase in the number of remote workers has put a dent in commute times for those still traveling to work, we looked at the most recent U.S. Census data on how 2021 numbers compared to 2019.

In 2019, Americans spent an average of 55.2 minutes per day on a round-trip commute (27.2 minutes each way). Two years later in 2021, Census survey data revealed that the same commute time had dropped to 51.2 minutes (or 25.6 minutes each way) — a 7% decrease in the national average, which added up to roughly 17 hours in commute time saved per year.

Meanwhile, the remote workforce increased 12 percentage points (ppt) — from nearly 6% in 2019 to just below 18% of the national workforce in 2021. In plain numbers, we estimated that, in 2019, there were nearly 9 million workers aged 16 years and older who were doing their jobs outside of a centralized workplace. For comparison, in 2021, that portion of the workforce increased to roughly 27.6 million workers. As a result, there were about 18.6 million fewer commuters across the country last year.

Full report