What is a Reasonable Commute to Work? A Common Post-Covid Question

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably spent a significant portion of your life commuting to and from work. Rush hour traffic, packed subways, and delayed buses are just a few of the many that come with a daily commute. But what constitutes a “reasonable” commute to work? With the pandemic forcing many of us to work from home and the rise of hybrid offices, the answer to this question may be evolving.

A reasonable commute is one that is both manageable in terms of time and distance while also allowing for a healthy work-life balance. However, the definition of what constitutes a reasonable commute can vary from person to person, depending on a range of factors. In this article, we’ll explore the various considerations that come into play when determining what a reasonable commute to work looks like in today’s world.

Commute to Work in Numbers

The COVID-19 pandemic had great effects on how – and where – people worked. In turn, the increase in remote positions led to a shift in the country’s average commute times. Before the pandemic in 2019, the average one-way commute in the United States was 27.6 minutes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau report Travel Time to Work in the United States: 2019. Although the average one-way commute time had risen in prior years, it fell to 26.9 minutes in 2020 and 25.6 minutes in 2021.

So, what does this information tell us about a reasonable commute? The pandemic had a lasting change on work structures across the country by proving that many companies did not require in-person workers. Still, not all organizations can stay afloat and be supported by a team of completely remote staff. Therefore as companies and organizations adjust to these new workforce trends, workers will have various factors to consider surrounding their work commutes.



The Impact of a Long Commute

A long commuting distance can significantly impact an individual’s health and well-being. Studies show that the physical and mental stress of a long commute can lead to a range of negative health effects, including an increased risk of elevated blood pressure levels, a sedentary lifestyle, and a higher chance of obesity. The mental health consequences of a long commuting distance can also be severe, including increased stress, negative impacts on mood, and decreased sleep quality.

In addition to these health impacts, a long commute can also negatively impact an individual’s productivity and work-life balance. The time spent commuting can make it difficult to manage personal activities and can create challenges in balancing work and home life. Longer routes to work can lead to increased lateness and absenteeism, decreased job satisfaction, and difficulty concentrating and focusing.

Consider a person who lives in the suburbs and commutes to work in the city. This person may spend several hours a day commuting, leaving little time for personal activities or socializing with friends and family. The exceeded stress of the long commuting distance may lead to a range of negative health impacts, including increased anxiety and a decreased sense of well-being. 

Benefits of Shorter Commute Times

On the other hand, a shorter commute can provide many advantages to workers that may increase their quality of life through a better work-life balance, improved health, and increased productivity. With more free time and energy, employees can regain their personal time and reduce the stress that comes with a longer commute. The subsections below will discuss some of the positive effects of shorter commutes.

More Free Time

A shorter commute can give individuals more free time for personal activities such as spending time with family, exercising, or pursuing hobbies. This can lead to lower levels of stress and better overall mental health. 

To make the most of the extra time gained from a shorter commute, individuals can prioritize activities that promote relaxation, socialization, and physical activity, set goals, find a workout partner or social activity, make time for family and friends, and improve their overall quality of life and well-being.

Less Stress

A shorter commute can significantly reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being. However, the stress of a long commute can stem from a number of factors, including pressure to make it to work on time, traffic and transportation issues, crowded public transportation, and an overall inability to relax. 

To manage stress during the commute there are a few strategies that can help, like planning ahead to avoid rushing, practicing relaxation techniques, or listening to calming music to mitigate the stressors of commuting.

More Energy

A shorter commute to work can help individuals conserve both physical and mental energy. Commuting can be physically draining, particularly if an individual has to travel long commuting distances or deal with the physical strain of driving or taking public transportation. It can also be mentally draining, as the stress of commuting can take a toll on an individual’s overall well-being. By shortening the commute, individuals can conserve both physical and mental energy, leading to better productivity and work-life balance.

When an individual conserves physical energy, they have more energy to devote to work and other activities. This can lead to better productivity, as they are better able to focus on tasks and have more energy to devote to projects. Similarly, conserving mental energy can lead to better work-life balance. When individuals are less mentally drained from their commute, they are better able to engage with their family and friends, pursue hobbies and interests, and engage in other activities that promote relaxation and overall well-being.

To make the most of the extra energy gained from taking on a reasonable commuting distance, individuals can engage in healthy physical activity, prioritize rest and relaxation, and pursue their hobbies and interests that they enjoy. By making the most of this extra energy, individuals can improve their overall quality of life and well-being.


Factors to Consider When Determining a Reasonable Commute

What is a reasonable commute to work, anyway? Well, what constitutes a reasonable commute for an individual can vary depending on a range of factors, such as their career, income, personal preferences, and location. After all, someone who works in a high-paying career and receives competitive wages would more likely accept a career with a longer commuting distance to work than someone who earns a lower income.

To determine what commuting distance would be worth the effort involved in traveling and scheduling, it is important to weigh these different factors and consider how they relate to their unique situation. Key aspects to consider include schedules, income and finances, personal preferences and priorities, their career, location, and any alternative transportation options. 

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the right commute will depend on each individual’s unique circumstances.

Job Location

The location of one’s job can play a major role in determining what constitutes a reasonable commute. In addition, factors such as proximity to public transportation or major highways can affect how long it takes to get to work. 

To find a job closer to home, it is important to narrow down job search parameters by geographic location and use online job search engines. Staffing agencies can also help workers find positions in their city. For example, staffing agencies in Atlanta can help workers around the Atlanta area find jobs in their location. 

Finally, considering job opportunities that allow for remote work or flexible schedules can also reduce the time and stress associated with a daily commute.

Personal Preference

The comfort level and preferences of individuals when it comes to commuting can vary. 

To determine their preferences and comfort level, commuters should ask themselves a few key questions such as if they prefer a more active commute through biking or walking, or if they prefer to drive or take public transportation. They should also consider factors such as the availability of public transportation, the cost of gas or parking, and their overall lifestyle goals. Finally, readers should be open to adjusting their preferences as their circumstances change. 

By considering these factors and being flexible, readers can determine their preference and comfort level.


It is important to consider one’s income and financial resources when determining what constitutes a reasonable commute. For example, people with higher incomes may be able to afford a longer commute. In comparison, those with lower incomes may need to find a job closer to home to avoid spending a disproportionate amount of their income on transportation costs, as this can significantly impact their financial and personal well-being. 

Family Considerations

Family responsibilities such as childcare or eldercare can significantly impact commuting time, so individuals should prioritize living closer to their family or having a career with more flexible work hours. 

To balance family responsibilities with a reasonable commute, they should consider alternative work arrangements, such as telecommuting or working part-time. They may also consider options such as carpooling or ride-sharing services, and should communicate with family members and employers about the need for flexibility and support. 

By prioritizing family responsibilities and seeking out supportive work arrangements, individuals can achieve a more manageable commuting experience.

Time of Day

Family responsibilities such as childcare or eldercare can significantly impact commuting time, so individuals should prioritize living closer to their family or having a job with more flexible work hours. To balance family responsibilities with a reasonable commute, they should consider alternative work arrangements, carpooling or ride-sharing services, and communicate with family members and employers about the need for flexibility and support. By prioritizing family responsibilities and seeking out supportive work arrangements, individuals can exceed in achieving a more manageable commuting experience.

Work Schedule

Some careers require flexible schedules or working on weekends, so what constitutes a reasonable commute for these individuals may differ from those with a traditional 9-5 schedule. When job hunting, it is important to consider part-time or freelance work and ask potential employers about their expectations regarding scheduling. Additionally, networking and speaking with individuals in similar fields can provide insight into potential career opportunities with the desired scheduling flexibility. 

Seeking out jobs that offer scheduling flexibility, workers can enable workers to achieve a reasonable commute, improve their overall work-life balance and reduce commuting-related stress.

Mode of Transportation

The mode of transportation used can significantly affect the duration of one’s commute. Transportation options include public transport, walking, cycling, driving, and carpooling. 

Public transport can be a cost-effective option but may not always be reliable. Walking and cycling can be a great way to incorporate exercise into one’s daily routine while reducing commuting costs. Driving a car can offer greater flexibility but may also be expensive, time-consuming, and stressful. Carpooling can be cost-effective and environmentally friendly but requires coordination with others and may not be feasible for those with inconsistent schedules. 

By considering the pros and cons of each transportation option and selecting the one that fits their needs and circumstances, individuals can optimize their commute time and improve their overall well-being.

Strategies for Reducing Your Commute

There are several tips and strategies that can help reduce your commute time and increase your quality of life, such as:

  1. Carpooling: Carpooling with colleagues or friends is an effective way to reduce your commute time, save money on gas and parking, and reduce your carbon footprint.
  2. Public transportation: Public transportation can be a cost-effective and eco-friendly commute method. While it may take longer than driving, it allows you to rest and unwind during your commute.
  3. Working from home: If possible, working from home can eliminate the need for a daily commute altogether, saving you time and money, reducing stress, and providing a better work-life balance.
  4. Moving closer to work: If your commute is particularly long, consider moving closer to your workplace. This can significantly reduce your commute time and provide more time for other activities.
  5. Negotiating a flexible schedule: If your career allows it, negotiating a flexible work schedule can help you avoid rush hour traffic and reduce your commute time. This may include working from home on certain days or adjusting your hours to avoid peak traffic times.

It’s important to remember that each strategy has pros and cons. For instance, carpooling and public transportation can be affected by factors such as traffic and delays and may require a degree of flexibility in your schedule. Working from home can provide more flexibility and free time but may require a separate space for a home office and self-discipline to stay productive. Finally, moving closer to work or negotiating a flexible schedule may require a big life change or negotiation with your employer.

Shorter Commute Time When You Work With Adia

A long commute can significantly affect various areas of your life and your well-being. However, there are various methods that workers can take to improve their commutes. By exploring all your options and being open to the alternative solutions outlined within this article, you can reduce your commute time and improve your overall quality of life.

Adia is a great solution for those seeking a more reasonable commute and better work-life balance. Adia offers flexible job opportunities, allowing individuals to choose when and where they work. With temp agencies in Chicago to staffing solutions in the big apple, Adia helps workers around the country find jobs in their location! Adia also offers job opportunities in a variety of industries, making it possible to find a job that fits one’s schedule, skillset, and lifestyle. If you’re looking for a job that offers a better work-life balance and a shorter commute, consider signing up with Adia today.

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Let's stay in touch!

Keep me in the loop on the latest gig economy happenings.