Study Says: Working from Home is Giving People Their Time Back

What are you doing with your extra four and a half hours? A recent study shows that remote workers have gained back 10 percent of their work week by not commuting.

Looking for a silver lining from the pandemic? Many American workers are gaining back some of their time because they are no longer commuting, a study from CoPilot says.

In Dallas, workers have gained back about 10 percent of their work week, or 4.5 hours, that used to be spent in traffic. Other nearby large cities on the list were Arlington, gaining 10.1 percent, and Fort Worth with 10.3 percent. Dallas, Arlington, and Fort Worth came in at 24, 23, and 20 respectively in the rankings for the percentage of commuting time gained.

The top five cities in order were New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Oakland, and Los Angeles. New Yorkers gained back 15.2 percent of their time by not commuting.

The study also noted the share of workers who commuted alone by car, with 76.7 percent of Dallas workers solo commuting and just over 82.2 percent for solo drivers in both Arlington and Fort Worth. By comparison, just 22.5 percent of workers in New York drive alone.

CoPilot researchers took data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 study on the amount of time the average person spent commuting. In 2018, the average travel time to work was 27.1 minutes, an increase from 25.3 minutes in 2010.

The company’s research noted several other studies on commuting and the remote working trend. The 2019 Urban Mobility Report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that the average American commuter spent nearly seven full working days a year stuck in traffic.

Working from home started to pick up long before the pandemic hit with some 43 percent of employees working remotely for at least some of their time in 2016—an increase from 39 percent four years earlier—probably driven in part by a desire to avoid the commute.

Since COVID-19 forced many employees to work from home, a Gallup poll found that 59 percent of those engaged in remote work would like to continue to do so as much as possible in the future.

On the flip side, a Harvard Business Review study found that 38 percent of managers believed remote workers tended to have lower work performance than those on site. But work-from-anywhere is likely to continue at a higher rate after the pandemic, according to a survey from S&P Global Market Intelligence, which found that 67 percent of businesses expected to keep work-from-home policies in place for the long haul.

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