Commuting

In a recent job interview, I was asked: “So you’ve been working as a freelancer, and you’ve been outside a fair bit – how do you feel about commuting into the office five days a week?”

“I don’t want to,” I blurted. Shit, you’re probably not supposed to say that in an interview.

If you travel for two hours a day (the UK average) and work an eight hour day, you’re really working a ten hour day. You’re spending a full working day each week just travelling, but in most cases, you’re not being paid for that. Commuting is unpaid work.

Travelling into London costs around me around £10 a day, sometimes more, sometimes less, and if I don’t take my own food into work I’m paying out for lunch. Coffee. Snacks. It’s easy to spend £20 a day. £100 a week. £400 a month. Over £4,000 a year. Your take-home pay isn’t what you take home when you’re spending a chunk of it just to work. Commuting is expensive.

And the stress. People talk about their commutes the way mugging victims talk about their experiences, just with more “so it wasn’t too bad”. People who travel on Southern or Thameslink have a special kind of thousand-yard stare.

Now commuting is getting weird and the lines between personal time and work are getting blurrier and blurrier. PwC is letting staff choose their own working hours. Ad agencies, tech companies and the like are providing working environments you never want to leave, so you work, you socialise, you go back to work.

Maybe you work from home. Then you’re at home and at work at the same time.

Maybe you freelance. Then you’re never not at work.

I don’t know where I’m going with this.

Does anyone?

*leaves ragged wreck of blog post, walks away*

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