Are You Up for the 2021 Commuting Challenge?

Here are some pointers.

In the wake of the unprecedented Year of the Pandemic, commuting back and forth to the law office will never be the same.

Firms of all sizes saw that the work can get done with a dispersed, remote workforce. For some firms, it got done more cheaply and efficiently than before.

Even firms that prefer a physical office filled with bodies working at desks will have to reckon with the fact that 2020 changed everything.

“If 2020 was a shock to our working lives, 2021 offers the opportunity to proactively reconfigure things for the better,” says attorney Gaston Kroub in this article for Above the Law. “For some, the lack of a need to commute to an office daily presents an opportunity to flee the urban environment for somewhere cheaper and less stressful. For others, it presents more chances for family time, whether that be for family dinners closer to the end of the school day or the ability to help out with household chores.”

Much of the discussion about remote work and telecommuting has focused on how it will impact the firm. But what about employees? How will they be affected?

For one thing, they’ll have more time in the day since they won’t be driving back and forth. For another, they might have some extra cash in their pockets, because they’ll be spending less on gas, food, snacks and wear-and-tear on their automobiles.

Following are some pointers for workers dealing with the seismic shift in commuting.

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Kroub’s article is titled The 2021 Commuting Challenge. Here are some key takeaways from it:

  • “At bottom, not needing to commute every day will result in a net gain of two precious resources, time and money. Which begs the question of how best to use that extra time and money. The answer of course will depend on each person’s circumstances, personality, and values.”
  • “There are a lot of great things you can do with the money saved from not commuting as often. Calculating the amount saved could rightfully include not only your gas and tolls or train/bus tickets, but all the extra expenditures — morning coffee, donut(s), afternoon snack, whatever — associated with trying to make the commute more livable.”
  • Whatever your personal savings add up to, consider applying at least some of the money saved to investing in your remote workspace. First, however, try and get your employer to pay for as much of the home office outfitting as possible.”
  • “You will be spending more time than ever working from home, so make sure your workspace is as good as it can be ergonomically, technologically, and in terms of presenting a professional backdrop for video calls. Next, consider using some of the savings toward charity — we all know the needs are great all around us. Finally, set aside some of the savings on an ongoing basis toward your hoped-for return to leisure travel at some as-yet undetermined point. Yes, everyone is already desperately in need for a vacation. Start saving toward one.”
  • “As important as the financial savings is the excess time many will have. Try and apply some of that newfound time in socially beneficial ways. Get on that pro bono project you always wanted to start. Or set some time each day for outdoor exercise of some kind — more important than ever when the comforts of working all day from home can stealthily reduce time spent outdoors.”
  • “Don’t forget to replace the social interactions inherent in the commuting lifestyle as well. Use some of the time for late afternoon post-work Zoom social events with friends or colleagues, or even former commuting buddies. The ideas are endless.”

The bottom line: “what matters most is doing something productive in response to 2021’s commuting challenge.”

Source: Above the Law

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