I was pleased to see Ewan McIntosh (digital media expert who has recently been working for Channel 4) reporting that his travel this year was down 50% in mileage on the previous year: 41,902 miles in 2009 compared to 82,000 miles in 2008. I’m all for people cutting down on their long distance travel and hopefully people are making efforts to do this and signing up for 1010.
However Ewan claims that this decrease in mileage is not due to long-distance travel but something he calls ‘extreme commuting’ (apparently a term originally coined by Mark Penn, who pens the microtrends series). Ewan regulary made the round trip from Scotland to London as part of his work. His commute was more killer than most.
As Ewan explains:
“It’s a trend that, thankfully, is becoming less and less common as companies feel the economic pain of sending someone around the world for face-to-face time. In January I noticed that my plane was less about 30 suited and booted regulars from the previous six months. By August, they had been replaced by tourists filling up cheap seats on their way home to the States and the Far East.“
Not only does such a commute burn a hole in a companies budget (and of course the environment too), it results in an exhausted workforce who have little to offer because their brains have been fried!
“Extreme commuting is tiring by its regularity, bad food at weird times, and the sneaking suspicion that your constantly stuffed-up nose is related to the circulated air you consume four times a week. You feel hungover for the day before and after your extreme commute, regardless, I’m afraid to say, of how much fun with a bottle of shiraz you have actually had.“
A recent article in the Times (Extreme commuting: How far would you go?) suggests that rather than being on the decline extreme commuting is on the up.
“1 in 10 people spends more than 2 hours commuting every working day, and for 740,000 people – 3 per cent of the population – getting to and from work is a marathon lasting 3 hours or more“.
Although the commute is no longer dead time due to the impressive ‘travelling kit‘ now available it is still really hard going for those who do it regularly. Life is not just about work, sometimes you just need to be where your nearest and dearest are. At the moment I’m running a series of Web 2 and Social Web workshops for the cultural heritage sector. This has resulted in me doing a fair amount of travel, most of it late at night or very early in the morning as working part-time means I have child care duties too. I couldn’t do it long-term, I wouldn’t be a nice person to know!
In the Times article Chris Sanderson, co-founder of strategy and forecasting company the Future Laboratory, concludes:
“The future is a place where people live and work either at home or close to it, walking to “hubs” – shared office spaces – where we will sit next to workers from any and every kind of industry: journalists next to sales directors, publishers next to bankers.”
Aaaah, it’s the remote office centres I posted about earlier in the year.
Sanderson believes hubs will lead not just to happier workers but happier communities, as people engage more, and spend additional time, with their families, friends and neighbours.
““What would you do with an extra 90 minutes a day?” he asks. “You could spend it with your children, join a gym, take up a hobby… You could notice that your street looks shabby and become much more local and community-focused.”
Sounds good to me!