Originally published at Ladybud Magazine
This is Los Angeles, California. Downtown LA is not like most major cities, there is no real city center where jobs are concentrated. Its nine million residents drive across its crumbling, trafficked freeways from where they can afford to live to where they work every single day; the average commute time for people who live there is 30 minutes each way.
The geography of Los Angeles is different than most urban centers as well, Los Angeles is a network of mountains, canyons and valleys referred to as the Los Angeles Basin. The basin makes it exceptionally susceptible to atmospheric inversion, which traps all the exhaust from all those cars driving everywhere all day long, which is referred to as “smog”.
Residents in Beijing China commute to work in a smog cloud, January 2013.
The air quality in cities like Los Angeles and Beijing has forced us to look at ways to rein in smog and make air breathable again. The solution is to drive less, but how do we do it when we are so dependent on oil and its consumption to drive our economy?
Procuring more oil is not the answer, as much as we try to convince ourselves otherwise.
We continue to find mountains of evidence that fracking, which was leveraged to the American people as a way to become independent from foreign oil, will destroy much of our water supply and only hurt us more than it could possibly help in the long run.
It has become increasingly evident that what we are doing is unsustainable environmentally, but it is also highly unsustainable economically and mentally.
This is why we must abolish the traditional 9-to-5, 40-hour work week. It is outdated, and technology no longer necessitates it.
Many jobs still require a commute, and always will. You can’t exactly get a root canal in a Google Hangout and going out to dinner doesn’t quite work without people leaving their homes to prepare, serve and eat the food. Culture and essential services will always require some sort of a commute for providers and users of these service.
But up to half of the jobs in the United States could require little-to-no commute at all. Communications technology has become so efficient that most work that goes on in a traditional office can be done from home more efficiently.
I mean, don’t you spend most of your days in meetings about meetings and answering interoffice emails? Why not do that from the comfort of your own home?
Over the last few years,Harvard Business Reviewhas published many articles and studies proving the economic utility of the telecommute for the modern worker. Not only do the companies that employ these workers save large sums of money in general overhead (office space, utilities, etc.) but the efficiency output of the worker is maximized in a telecommuting situation.
Goals are communicated to the worker with deadlines. The worker then chooses to work on the project on a flexible schedule from the comfort of their own home. If goals and deadlines are not met, the company seeks a different employee for the position. But in most cases, telecommuters are found to actually work more (by up to 5-7 hours a week) than those in the office setting.
Companies pay these workers a salary, not hourly wage, and many have found this to be a successful revenue-driving model for their company because workers are 13% more productive on average than those who work in the office.
End the commute, clear your head, improve your health.
Workers who telecommute save time, money, energy and petroleum but more importantly, they are much happier people.
The ability to create your own hours and manage projects allows you to be more active, because gym hours aren’t restricted to before or after the commute. Eating also becomes a much healthier event when workers have the ability to use their full home kitchens to prepare food throughout the day.
Parents can spend more time with their children when they pick them up from school, and work at home the hours the children are away or when they sleep.
With more people telecommuting, we will eliminate the daily rush hour surge of traffic on our roads, making driving easier and faster and drivers less stressed by traffic. We also reduce therisk of contracting or passing infectious virusesby staying home more.
Those who have the ability to telecommute report overall improvement in their quality of life. Imagine working a ten-hour day in sweatpants and a t-shirt and still having time to walk on the beach or prepare your own healthy meals! Wouldn’t you produce a higher quality of work?
Save the planet, save yourself.
If you don’t “believe” in climate change even after the mountains of evidence and increase in climate-based natural disasters don’t worry, you’re right, the planet isn’t going anywhere, we are.
As the climate changes it is becoming increasingly apparent that the planet will never be “damaged”, we just wont be able to exist on it anymore. Chemical and nuclear warfare, oil drilling/fracking and foreign oil cartels are extremely profitable. The worst part is we have been lead to believe these are necessary evils.
They aren’t, all of that noise is only profitable for a few people. True economic recovery will involve the creation of many jobs across many industries in businesses that have an understanding of how sustainable practices will net more revenue over time than quick fixes like fracking.
Americans cities, like Los Angeles, were built around the car and the 9-to-5 work week, and our culture has reinforced this lifestyle although it has no actual benefits toward productivity, economy and environment.
Just because it worked in the past doesn’t mean it’s working in the present.
Contrary to 9-to-5′r belief, the environment and mental health are not mutually exclusive when it comes to increased revenues and better business.
When we abolish the 9-to-5 work week we will be fitter, happier and more productive.