Robert Trent: Eschew the commute |

Robert Trent: Eschew the commute

Let’s assume time is money, because in many ways, it is. And let’s accept that for most knowledge workers, work is something you do, not some place you go. If you had the right equipment, would it really matter where you worked as long as you got the job done? Maybe you could even get more work done without the distractions of your office? If we take it as givens that time is money and work is location-independent, it follows that the time you spend commuting to and from your employer’s workplace and taking a lunch break is a waste of your time and money. Commuting and lunch breaks are required by your employment, but that’s unpaid time.

Let’s say, it takes you an hour to commute to your workplace in Sacramento, an hour for lunch, and another hour to get back home. Essentially, you have to give your employer 11 hours of your day to get paid for eight hours of work.

Let’s do the math. Ostensibly, you make $35 an hour. That works out to $280 a day for an eight-hour day and $1,400 for a 40-hour week.

Actually, though, it’s an 11-hour day, for a 55-hour week. Effectively, you’re only making $25.45 an hour.

In 2015 (latest figures available), fully half of the county’s workforce, 50%, commuted to out-of-county jobs every day. That’s 17,105 people.

The high cost of having a job

Do you really need a silk rope tied around your neck to do a good job? Does your job have a dress code? Do you have to spend money on expensive apparel you only wear to work? And what about the wear and tear on your car? And parking?

Would you be happier in jeans and a T-shirt? Pajamas? Could you be just as productive, or even more productive, wearing what you want to instead of what you have to?

Would you like your job better if you didn’t have to spend your hard-earned money to dress to look like a success?

And what would you do with all that time and money you don’t spend on commuting, clothes, lunch, automotive maintenance and repair? Put in a little more time on the job? Buy organic food? Play with your kids? Get more sleep?

How much is that $25.45 an hour job costing you?

More and more jobs depend on what you can do on a computer, at your desk and/or on the phone. Why would you want to risk commuting to work? Cars crash, trains wreck, and these days, you could even get shot at work.

Unpaid time, expensive clothes, transportation costs, and the risks you take are all downsides of commuting to work.

Telework is the new paradigm

Telecommuting, telework, remote work — whatever you want to call it — is not just an advantage to you. It’s a financial boon to your employer. For instance, employers are learning they can save big money on real estate costs by downsizing office space.

IBM pioneered the concept of “hoteling” in 1994. If a worker wanted to come into the office, he or she had to reserve a desk. IBM wants their people either in the field with a client or working remotely. In some locations, the worker to desk ratio is 10:1.

Teleworking from home or a neighborhood telework center used to be considered a privilege. Now, it’s almost a job requirement.

Furthermore, telework is also good for the environment. Way back last century California introduced the concept of remote telework centers as a means of mitigating transportation and pollution problems.

According to the Nevada County Economic and Demographic Profile, commuting severely impacts Nevada County’s air quality and strains the transportation infrastructure. In 2015 (latest figures available), fully half of the county’s workforce, 50%, commuted to out-of-county jobs every day. That’s 17,105 people.

Are you one of them? Would you like to take back your time, keep your money, reduce your risks, improve your work/life balance and save our planet?

We can help. At Sierra Commons, we are dedicated to improving the bottom line for both you — and your employer. Whether you want to work from home or a local, alternative office like Sierra Commons, we can consult with you on how to prove to your employer that remote telework is the right solution for both of you.

Robert X Trent is the executive director of Sierra Commons. A community-based nonprofit that just celebrated its 10-year anniversary, Sierra Commons is a coworking space, telework center and business ignitor in Nevada City. For more information please visit or call 530-265-8443.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User