What Does the Future of Commuting Look Like?
May 28, 2021 by Lee Mulkowsky
Though millions of professionals are and will continue working remotely through the end of 2021, many employed people still commute to and from work. Of those, the majority drive. Others take public transport, while a much smaller percentage bike or walk. Still, COVID-19 has forever changed the way we ‘get’ to our jobs.
Increasingly, even those for whom ‘work from anywhere’ (WFA) seemed impossible are beginning to perform their duties remotely: doctors using telehealth tools to ‘see’ patients; therapists using video-call platforms to counsel people seeking mental health support.
So what will the future of commuting look like? In the following sections, we discuss a few trends you can expect to see in the coming years.
Hybrid home/office model will become more prevalent
Over the next decade, expect to see more professionals split their time between working from home and working in a dedicated office setting.
“Working remotely gives people the chance to get work done when they are most productive,” Maryam Mohsin writes in a blog post for Shopify-integration service Oberlo. There’s ample evidence to support the contention that remote workers do indeed achieve more actual work than their cubicle-bound cohorts: “Research conducted shows that 65 percent of respondents are more productive in their home office than at a traditional workplace,” Mohsin writes.
But some workers, particularly since the start of the global pandemic, have found themselves getting a touch of cabin fever. Plus, being physically present around one’s coworkers has its own benefits to both employee and employer.
“During socialization, employees often share updates on projects that may otherwise be missed,” Monica Patrick writes in a piece for the Houston Chronicle. It also “benefits the workplace through encouraging teamwork. Small businesses rely on winning groups in the company to bring in big dividends.” Furthermore, “[s]ocialization is the virtual petri dish that builds new, strong alliances [which] could result in a power team that finds a way to cut costs…”
In order to strike a balance between these benefits, in the next few years, we are likely to see many workers split their time between working in an office and working from home. (An excellent, cost-effective office-space solution? Metro Offices’ professional private office spaces, rentable by the day or month.)
Public transportation will grow
Due in part to the desire to continue the recent vaccination-led uptick in socialization, the availability of public transportation will increase over the next decade. This is so despite the lockdown-spurred drop in subway and bus ridership nationwide. Here in the Washington, D.C., area, for example, despite some bumps along the way, work on the long-awaited Purple Line, a 16-mile, inter-county light rail for Maryland commuters, is continuing in earnest.
The focus on reducing fossil-fuel emissions will contribute to more workers using increasingly ‘green’ transport. “In ten years … public transit systems will continue to expand routes and services,” Jodi Williams and Joelle Jach write in a piece for Work Design Magazine. “Integrated transit technology will make it easy and economical to avoid driving.”
For knowledge workers, WFA will become the norm
By 2031 the odds that millions of people will be WFA are excellent. Why? People appreciate being able to get their jobs done anywhere there’s a good Wi-Fi connection.
Remote work has been an overwhelming success for both employees and employers since the start of COVID-19. A survey from accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers reads, in part, “the shift in positive attitudes toward remote work is evident: 83% of employers now say the shift to remote work has been successful for their company.” Many workers have come to value the flexibility inherent in WFA, particularly as many schools remain on hybrid online/in-person learning schedules, and childcare costs, already among the top expenses of U.S. families, skyrocket.
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