Have you ever thought about what it costs to get to work and the effect your commute has on you?
A McCrindle Research survey Paying to Work: What’s work costing you? in June 2013 found: “Transport is the single greatest expense when it comes to work, with the average Australian spending $43.31 each week on work-related petrol costs, tolls, and/or public transport tickets. In a 48-week work-year this adds up to $2,079 per year or $173.24 each month.”
If like me, you live in the inner city and work in the CBD, you probably have access to public transport. And for those of us that do most of our work in an office and don’t need to travel to meetings or appointments during the day very often, it’s a sensible choice. For economic reasons, as well as being environmentally conscious, not to drive makes sense: Cars are expensive to maintain, petrol costs more than milk by the litre and renting a city car park is almost taking out a second mortgage.
While many Australian businesses allow flexible working arrangements, such as working from home and working online (often called telecommuting), unless you’re lucky enough to live close enough to walk, or have the energy and commitment to cycle, most of us still incur the expense and anxiety of getting to and from home to our place of work on a daily basis.
In Victoria, despite being offered the incentive of free train travel before 7am, most of us work within a window of 8am-6pm Monday to Friday, and travel at peak times. While some service industries and retail have extended their hours of operation, the RACV reports core business hours have changed very little in the last 50 years.
Telecommuting hasn’t taken really off either. Future of Work Foundation Chairman Charles Brass says one reason why is “two forms of social isolation: that you’re home alone; and, even if you’re not at home alone, you need to isolate yourself from whatever else is going on in the house to get anything done”. We seem to miss those water cooler interactions, and a perennial topic of conversation in the office kitchen about your colleagues’ commute.
Anticipating road rage or living in fear that your mode of transport will be either late, full or cancelled altogether seems to be a daily reality. Congestion, overcrowding, cancelled services, inconsiderate commuters and extremes of heat and cold can all make it an unpleasant experience – not the way most of us would prefer to start or finish the day.
Researching the effects of commuting, Human Capital reports The London School of Economics found single men without children fall in the least stressed category and working women with children are the most stressed. As a single man, I’ll keep that in mind when I’m accounting for the $2,000 I spent on commuting and feeling a little worse for wear at either end of a day’s work.