What Are Fake Commutes?

For many Australians, the commute to work was a dreaded part of the day. It’s hard to deny, however, that the commute didn’t gear us up for a day of productivity. As the novelty of working from home wears off, do working from home ‘ fake commutes’ stimulate productivity?

A long commute time can zap us of the valuable energy we need to stay focused and productive throughout the work day. While daily commutes may have some upsides, especially if you use it to exercise, workers have now gotten used to the benefits of working from home and not having to commute to an office everyday.

An Australian case study into ‘Time Spent Commuting to Work and Mental Health’ conducted by Allison Miller for the American Journal of Epidemiology, suggested that commuting over 6 hours per week was associated with a small decrease in mental health. 

With this being said, the commute for several employees was a time when they could disconnect from home and gear up for the day ahead. This is evident as many commutes may include physical activities such as bikes rides which can help an individual improve their physical health and get into work mode along the way.

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As Capucine Yeomans, and editor at LinkedIn stated, “the commute offers many benefits.” A working from home structure is expected to become permanent for many people, so ensuring continual productivity is essential.

“It sounds a bit ridiculous but the point is that, once upon a time, I used my commute to mentally prepare for the day … The time to walk out of the house and leave behind whatever was going on,” Dr Lyons, a lecturer at Monash University, says. 

As we have realised in the transition to working from home throughout the pandemic, the lines are blurred between work and home life. It can be difficult to achieve a health work life balance if you’re always working from home and start working earlier than you usually would. At the very least, commuting to work has some mental health benefits, such as simply getting some fresh air.

“For all the headaches commuting can trigger – from dealing with bumper-to-bumper traffic jams to being squashed into a train after near-inevitable delays – it does, in truth, bring certain benefits.”

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As a result, WFH employees are implementing ‘fake commutes’ or virtual commutes into their daily commuting routine. How this ‘fake commute’ time is utilised is up to the individual. Even if you don’t do a full fake ‘commute’, at least stick to a (somewhat) enforced morning routine that gets you to work mentally prepared. Here are some tips we suggest;

  • Going for a walk around the block
  • Getting in the car and getting a coffee
  • Listening to a podcast
  • Do some housework
  • Give yoga a go

Clinical psychologist Jo Mitchell, co-founder of Melbourne’s The Mind Room centre, agrees. “It’s a physical pause in the day. That’s the benefit we’re missing. The key is to implement structure and routine, which are vital for health and wellbeing.”

How an employee starts the day is an important indicator of his or her attitude to the rest of that day. And it’s a realisation that has been hitting people. 

So do working from home ‘ fake commutes’ stimulate productivity and are there actually benefits of a fake commute? We think Yes! By helping differentiate home life and work life, the hours we put into work can become a lot more productive as a result. If you are struggling to stay focused while working from home, try implementing a fake commute into your routine.

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