Hours spent commuting pre-COVID added up to days wasted. How many? We have a handy one-button calculator for that
Before COVID-19, the average Bay Area commuter spent more than 260 cumulative hours each year traveling to and from their job. If that commuter worked from home instead, they saved almost 11 days by the time the anniversary of lockdowns rolled around earlier this month.
In the midst of so much uncertainty and grief, many Bay Area residents have also reaped a surprising benefit over the past year: Working from home has let people reclaim the huge chunks of time they once spent commuting in our region’s miserable traffic.
Our interactive calculator will estimate just how many hours you’ve saved by working from home:
This analysis calculates how much time a commuter would have saved if they went from working in-person five days a week before the pandemic to doing their jobs entirely from home.
Based on a rough estimate of average work days each year, 242.8, someone who lives a breezy 20 minutes from their job saved 161.9 commuting hours in one year.
A “super-commuter,” who was enduring a 90-minute trip each way, got an entire month back — 728.4 hours, or 30.4 days.
The average Contra Costa County commuter, who traveled 39 minutes each way according to U.S. Census data, could’ve used their new free time to stream 465 episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy,” without commercial breaks. In Santa Clara County, that person saved enough hours to drive from San Jose to Los Angeles and back 22 times.
We calculated those time savings using methodology from a freelance writing blog called Make A Living Writing, which found former commuters in the Bay Area have reaped some of the biggest time savings in the nation over the past year.
The blog calculated those savings by multiplying the average daily trip length commuters reported in the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey by an estimate for the number of workdays in one year.
That figure varies significantly depending on factors like your line of work and how long you’ve been at your job, but a 2018 report from the U.S. Travel Association estimated American workers take 17.2 days off on average for holidays, vacation and sick time — leaving 242.8 workdays.
One key caveat: Plenty of people never stopped going to work over the past year, many of whom faced heightened COVID risks as they did the essential jobs that allowed everyone else to shelter in place in relative comfort. Others have been gradually trickling back to work since lockdown orders eased.