Forbes

How The American Daily Commute Will Change In 2017

By Larry Alton

For millions of Americans, commuting is a bothersome necessity, and a part of being in the workforce. Currently, most Americans spend 25.4 minutes traveling, each way, meaning almost an hour a day just getting to and from the office. If you drive a car, you’ve probably gotten used to the traffic, and if you take public transportation, you might have gotten used to crowding or unreliable schedules.

But thankfully, just as the scope of offices and workplaces are changing, the American daily commute is changing too. Here’s how.

Ridesharing

Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are in high demand, and while their costs may be prohibitive for an individual rider every day for work, if you end up carpooling with one of these services, it could end up saving you money – especially in big cities, where you have to factor in not only gas, but parking expenses.

Riding with a professional driver also means you can concentrate on getting work done during your commute, whether that’s hammering out emails, catching up on a missed webinar or podcast, or simply reviewing your notes for an upcoming meeting or presentation.

Uber currently offers a service called uberPOOL, which allows riders to share a trip with another rider, but split the costs. Lyft offers a similar service called Lyft Line.

For a while, Lyft had a designated “commute” service specifically designed for commuters; in August, the company shut the service down for lack of driver interest, but I expect we haven’t seen the last of this feature. There’s too much demand for better commutes, and the technology already exists. Watch for new developments here in 2017. 

Driverless Cars

We’ve been hearing about driverless cars for years now, with Google’s self-driving car project having logged millions of hours of drive time with no real incidents to report. They’ve had a bit of a slow start due to laws, regulations, and consumer fears about safety, but we’re getting close to the tipping point here.

It’s projected that we’ll have 10 million cars on the road by 2020, which means we could see the first autonomous consumer vehicles by sometime in 2017. It may be a little ambitious still, but once we see autonomous cars hit the road, our entire commuting life will change. Commutes will no longer be a “dead space” where you can’t get anything done; they’ll be a chance to get ahead on tasks in your mobile office.

Remote Work

Remote working opportunities are also becoming more popular, as more evidence accrues to suggest that working from home is more efficient. The concept is becoming normalized, and more than ever, independent contractors and even full-time employees are logging their hours exclusively from home.

In 2017, I expect this trend to develop even further, with more businesses allowing work-from-home days and exclusively remote positions. This will free up American highways significantly, and spare workers millions of hours of work (cumulatively, of course), as workers spend less time commuting and more time actually working.

General Developments

We’ll the following benefits to commuting times and conditions as a result of these advances in technology and infrastructure:

  • Decreased burdens on motorists. For starters, there will be less of a need for individual motorists to drive themselves to work. That means motorists can consider selling their cars, or at least burn through less gas and repair work.
  • More work time. Less time spent focusing on the road means more time available to focus and work – which means more productivity and less stress overall.
  • Less congestion. With fewer drivers on the road, there will be less traffic, which means that remaining motorists will spend less time on the road.

What Your Office Can Do

Is your office ready to start improving your workers’ commute times and experiences? If so, you can get a head start on these commute trends and make your office less stressed and more productive by making the following changes:

  • Promote ridesharing services. You don’t have to become a brand evangelist for Lyft or Uber, but it’s worth mentioning the services to any employees who might not be aware of them. You could also publish information regarding public transit systems in your city, which could similarly save your workers time and money.
  • Organize collective plans. Get your employees together and see if you can start a carpool. Autonomous cars may not be here yet, but in the meantime, you can all drive together (and take turns driving in) to see the same benefits.
  • Consider remote work flexibility. Give your employees the chance to work from home, even if just for one or two days a week. This will immediately cut commute times to zero. You can always reverse your position if it doesn’t work out as you intended.
  • Shift mandated hours. The typical office is open 9-5, but that forces your workers to drive in and out during the highest periods of traffic. Consider shifting your hours to be slightly different from the norm, or give your employees the flexibility to come in earlier or later to avoid rush hour.

The American commute is changing for the better, with more traveling options for workers, lower-cost methods of transportation, and more hours for employees to use as they please. If your business becomes a vocal supporter of these changes, you’ll help to usher in an even bigger movement across the country, and your workers are going to love you for it.

 

This article was written by Larry Alton from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.