Remote Workers Are Missing One Subtle But Powerful Commute Benefit

Remote workers have all the time in the world — but fewer boundaries than ever.

Zach Quinn
6 min readMay 17


Highway with time-lapsed vehicles speeding toward the city skyline.
Highway outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Joey Kyber on Unsplash.

I Would Give Anything To Do Nothing (For 5 Minutes)

It’s 6-something on a Wednesday evening and I’m working 500+ miles from my usual desk. I clock out after a particularly tough day of data engineering and play on my phone for about 5 minutes before my “office” (my wife’s childhood bedroom) door bursts open and one of my many nieces and nephews screams “Dinner time!” and walks out. I don’t fault the short (and possibly redundant) interaction because it will still be years until they learn the value of condensing the content of such a meeting into an email.

You’d think being locked in a bedroom coding for 8+ hours would make you crave at least some human interaction. But what I really wanted was 5 more minutes on my phone.

My precious decompression time.

Time that quickly evaporates as soon as someone sees my not feverishly coding or frustratingly clicking away in my office. Time I would normally get during a mindless commute.

Car On, Brain Off

One of remote work’s selling points, the lack of a commute, is, incidentally enough, also one of its toughest adjustments.

Although I am significantly less stressed not having to chart routes home and dodge other exhausted drivers, I no longer have that “other” time afforded to us when in transit.

Not commuting for close to two years now means I don’t have “spare” hours that can be channeled into things that can be both productive and bring us joy like listening to an audiobook, becoming immersed in a true crime podcast or getting irrationally angry at local sports talk radio.

And if you’re rolling your eyes at my characterization or even romanticization of a typical American commute and drafting a comment about how you’d kill to not have to transport yourself, half asleep, on a daily basis, then I’d first ask you to consider the value of your time away from it all.

Commuter limbo, while unpleasant in larger cities, allows our bodies and mindsets…



Zach Quinn

Journalist—>Data Engineer @ Forbes; helping you target, land and excel in data-driven roles.