How Long Will It Take To Get To Work? A Rough Estimate

Christina J Colclough

By Christina Colclough

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Most employees choose their current company based on its culture, salary policies, or simply because the position is still available. They seem to forget another aspect that is just as important: the location! How long it takes you to get to work every day might affect your work schedule and even the quality of your performance.

How Long Will It Take To Get To Work

Below is the estimated period of time for daily commute and other influencing factors, compiled from our team’s research. Keep scrolling to learn more.

How Long Will It Take Me To Get To Work?

The commuting time varies greatly among different individuals, depending on your office’s location, traffic, and means of transportation. According to Zippia, Americans spend 55 minutes on average commuting every day. Meanwhile, that number increases to 59 minutes in the UK, according to TUC.

business man

Let’s say the world’s average commuting time is about 1 hour. Assuming everyone works 5 days a week (personal off-time or holidays not counted), then we have the following math: 

  • 5 hours a week 
  • 260 hours a year
  • 13,000 hours if you work for 50 years (e.g., from 18 to 68 years old), equalling 542 days. 

You heard it right. You will spend more than 1.5 years of your entire life just commuting to work! 

Other factors that might play a role:

The Area’s Traffic

Heavy traffic can slow down the entire system. Even small motorcycles might get stuck on a crowded street amidst the molasses-like flow. Such inconvenience adds minutes, sometimes even hours, to the average commute time.

Traffic unpredictability is another disadvantage you must factor in. Your usual route might be clear sailing one day, but the next, an accident turns it into a suffocating gridlock.

Transportation Method

In the intense battle against the clock, each transportation mode offers its own strengths and weaknesses. Below is a brief breakdown of their influences on your average commute:



  • Offer flexibility and independence; you can choose your own routes and schedules.
  • Fast in low-traffic areas or with carpooling


  • Heavily impacted by traffic congestion, especially during peak times
  • Can be expensive due to fuel costs and parking fees

Public Transportation:


  • Faster and more reliable than cars in heavily congested areas. 
  • Cost-effective, especially with monthly passes


  • High risks of delays and disruptions due to breakdowns or infrastructure issues
  • Limited schedule options in certain areas, which might not align with individual needs
  • Can be crowded and uncomfortable during rush hour



  • Much faster than cars in congested areas or for short distances. Cost-effective, requiring no fuel or parking expenses.


  • Highly dependent on weather conditions. 
  • Not feasible for everyone due to distance or safety concerns. 
  • May require extra time for showering or changing once you arrive at work.

Where You Work

Distance is the most obvious factor; the further you live from your workplace, the longer your commute will be! This rule of thumb holds true whether you drive, take public transportation, or cycle.

And do not forget that the job distribution within the city also has a say here. If popular jobs are concentrated in only a few central areas, then people living outside these regions will have to travel longer than those closer to the job hubs.

Other Responsibilities

Parents, especially mothers, often pick up and drop off children at daycare or school before getting to work. The multiple stops and backtracking clearly affect their commute time! 

Not to mention grocery shopping, laundry, appointments, and other household chores; if shared unequally between parents, these responsibilities might extend commutes as people try to squeeze them in before or after work. The same dilemma applies to other personal commitments like voluntary work, pet care, or elderly care. 

Can An Employer Reject Me Because Of My Commute Time?

Job Rejection

Unfortunately, the answer is Yes, especially if the job requires frequent on-site presence or specific arrival times. Let’s say you apply for a customer service job with fixed shifts, and your commute often makes you late; the employer will likely consider that a valid reason for rejection.

Of course, there are always exceptions. If you can offer alternative solutions like flexible start times or remote business days, for instance,  the employer might be more open to accommodating your long commute.

Still, from my experience, transparency during the interview process is extremely necessary. If commute time is genuinely a concern for the employer, they should discuss the topic openly to give you a chance to address it! It’s always best to consult an employment lawyer or advocate if you feel you were unfairly rejected. 

Tips To Speed Up Your Commuting Time

Office worker coming late to meeting

Get Up Early

Early birds catch the worm… and the empty train seats and uncrowded highways! 

A head start can significantly save your commute time, especially in bustling cities. With less stress and frustration due to rush hour chaos, you can set your day in a positive tone right from the beginning, which benefits both your productivity and concentration for all the heavy workloads ahead. 

Better yet, those extra pre-dawn moments are now yours to conquer. Feel free to squeeze in a workout or tackle some emails, enjoying your precious personal time before the daily grind begins.

Of course, I understand that sacrificing precious sleep is not always easy. If you’re not a natural early riser, forcing yourself awake can be quite tiring, and disrupted sleep patterns due to early rising might also lead to some health consequences. In that case, put your well-being above all and find another alternative instead.

Extra notes: 

  • Don’t shock your body! Start by waking up 15-30 minutes earlier each day until you reach your desired wake-up time.
  • Ensure you get enough quality sleep (7-8 hours for most adults) by following a regular sleep schedule. A relaxing bedtime routine is also highly recommended.
  • Pack your lunch, lay out your clothes, and prepare breakfast the night before to avoid morning chaos.

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Eat Something Light For Breakfast

Lighter meals, like smoothies, yogurt with fruit, or toast with avocado, digest much faster than heavy and greasy foods. You will no longer feel that typical post-breakfast drowsiness that tends to linger and slow you down. Navigating your commute should be a piece of cake!

And have I mentioned that a light breakfast often takes less preparation time than a full meal? Save those precious minutes for other morning tasks instead; you can even hit the snooze button for a few extra winks.

On the other hand, it’s important to pay attention to your hunger cues and adjust your food choices accordingly. Do you find yourself starving before lunch? Then, consider increasing your breakfast portion or adding a protein source.

Find A Company Closer To Where You Live

Less time spent on buses and trains translates to more precious hours for sleep and leisure! You can now use those extra minutes for a workout, delicious breakfast, or simply unwind yourself before the workday begins. This significantly better work-life balance will boost both your well-being and personal happiness.

And for those concerned about the environment, here is the great news: shorter commutes reduce air pollution and carbon footprint! Even such a small step toward greener lifestyles can contribute to a healthier planet for everyone.

However, I must admit that living closer to work hubs often comes with higher housing costs. Assess your financial situation carefully before deciding, and consider relocating if necessary.

Plus, compromising career aspirations for proximity is definitely not the ideal scenario. Make sure to expand your job search radius to find a company within comfortable distances while still pursuing your desired career path.

Types of Remote Jobs to Save Your Commute Time

social media vlogger
  • Content Writer: Content writers create content like articles, blog posts, and website copy for businesses and online platforms. As long as there is an internet connection, they can enjoy flexible hours and the freedom to work from anywhere they like.
  • Software Developer (or other tech careers): This in-demand field offers high earning potential and opportunities to work on meaningful projects. The best part is that you can do all the main tasks (building and maintaining apps, websites, systems, etc.) remotely. 
  • Customer Service Representative: Another role with extremely good pay, it offers clear career progression and the chance to connect with people worldwide. Your job is to provide excellent customer support via phone, email, or chat for companies from various industries. 
  • Data Analyst: Businesses trust analysts to identify trends and insights from given data. The decision-makers then rely on these interpretations to adjust the direction of their campaigns or projects accordingly.

Note that many other positions are available on the job market, and this is not a complete list. Time to do your research! 


You should get up a bit earlier than usual or save some time on breakfast. Trust me, there will be much less rush hour chaos during your commute! 

If these solutions do not work out for you, consider relocating or switching to another company within shorter distances. Write to me if you have any additional questions.

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Christina J Colclough

Christina J. Colclough

Dr Christina J. Colclough is an expert on The Future World of Work and the politics of digital technology advocating globally for the importance of the workers’ voice. She has extensive regional and global labour movement experience, is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach, and strategist advising progressive governments and worker organisations.

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