Working in a city can certainly have its benefits. What isn’t one of those benefits is the privilege of sitting in morning traffic or spending morning after morning feeling like a sardine on a packed subway train. As a resident of Boston, I’ve felt both of these issues (if you weren’t aware we have the worst car traffic in the country and also a wildly unreliable transit system) and for many it has become part of the daily routine. Often we joke that it takes an hour to get from Boston to Boston.

I find myself thinking time and time again, “Why is this normal?” And the reality with the modern workspace is that it should not be. The idea of people commuting in from suburbs and smaller parts of cities to centralized work locations is a very old notion. Nowadays the first things that people do during their days at work is hop online and check their slack, email, or online calendar.

For many people, the early stages of the day are their most creative and can be their most productive. But what happens when you are faced with a morning commute that throws off your mental focus?

Picture this; you wake up on a Tuesday morning after a great night’s sleep. It’s a cold winter morning but you feel energized and excited to get some work done. After getting ready, you start to head out to the train station. Once you get there you are met with the lovely announcements of a 10 minute delay on your line. No worries, this won’t make you late, you just have to wait it out.

Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

2 minutes later the delay is bumped up to 15 minutes. Okay now this is annoying and it is a little cold outside to be stuck here, but hey what can you do?

Another 3 minutes go by and the intercom blares again. Now the delay is 20 minutes and your train is not even in the station yet. Now you’re cold, almost certainly going to be late, and that great morning start that you planned on having has been replaced with frustration.

The truth is that many people find their commutes to be stressful (in Boston that number is half of the residents) and many of those commutes take more than an hour round-trip. That is a substantial chunk of employees’ weeks that are wasted on idle transportation.

If this doesn’t sound relatable to your situation, then you are probably very lucky, (and if this felt all to familiar, sorry for the MBTA PTSD trigger) but this is a reality for many commuters across many different cities. In the modern world, all that many of us need to be productive is a desk to sit at and a solid internet connection. So why are we still forcing people to spend sometimes 1/12th (or more!) of their day sitting on a train, or in a car, or walking to a space that has a desk and an internet connection?

We should be enabling team members to work in ways that they believe will be the most productive. I think many of us can agree that a head clouded with frustration because you just spent 30 minutes waiting for a train that you would then have to spend another 30 minutes riding is a terrible tool for accomplishing your best.

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

The members here at Telescoped feel that the time has come to re-evaluate this and many other aspects of our work life as software builders. We’re building our software people first, are you with us?

Categories: Remote Work


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