The latest commuter study – conducted by the University of Cambridge, which surveyed 34,000 British workers – found that those with commutes under a half hour, gained an additional seven days’ worth of productive time each year – compared to commutes of an hour or more. Those hour-plus commuters were also 33 percent more likely to be depressed.
This backs up a University of Montreal study that linked commuting to job burnout, which is defined as feeling emotionally drained, and cynical – to the point that you start goofing off at work.
The Montreal data shows most people do fine with a 20 minute commute, but after 35 minutes almost everyone develops a bad attitude.
The problem wasn’t just the length of the commute, but the uncertainty not knowing from day-to-day how long you’ll be stuck. Carpools are even more stressful because you’re not just at the mercy of the traffic, you’re at the mercy of whoever’s driving.
Then there’s the study from Washington University in St. Louis, which found that living more than 10 miles from work increases blood pressure, and people who commute more than 15 miles are much more likely to be obese.
But it’s not hopeless! According to one of those Swedish happiness studies, you can be OK even with a lousy commute if you’re commuting to a job you love, and then still another study calculated that if you can eliminate your commute entirely, it would make you as happy as if you’d gotten a $40,000 raise.
So the data is pretty clear – to eliminate the stress in your life, get a job you love, and then just live at your office.