Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Lonely Commuter

The office environment seen on television shows people carpooling on their way to work and then working in large office environments with tons of collaboration and teamwork. Unfortunately, that's not totally indicative of how most US companies work, and, most startling, how most commuters get to their place of work. So how are they getting to work? Public Transportation? Biking? Unfortunately, despite attempts to make those more appealing for workers, neither according to the Wall Street Journal: it's commuting, and most of it is solo.
Credit: WSJ
Last year, about 76% of workers 16 years and older drove to work alone—just shy of the all-time peak of 77% in 2005, according to data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. Driving alone dipped slightly during the recession, but it has been ticking back up as the economy revives.

Meanwhile, just about every other way of getting to work has either languished or declined.
The one big uptick shown has been in people who work from home. Technology has allowed for more of Americans to be able to do this and despite a few high-profile CEOs objecting, the trend has certainly increased as time has gone along. I was one of these "telecommuters" for the past 10 months, helping to add to the national number of 4.4% of Americans who work solo.

So what does this trend show and what does it mean? Well the solo commuting is really bad for people who are trying to save the environment and solo working is bad for those offices trying to build camaraderie. But the growing trend is that people are living further away from where they work and they need to either go into the office alone or stay at home alone in work. With 45% of Americans not able to access public transportation, the choice isn't always easy. But as telecommuting becomes more popular, the hope is that the commuting alone numbers start to decrease a bit and the office-place doesn't suffer as a result

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