How To Keep Your Extreme Commuters Happy

Last Updated Jun 11, 2011 9:43 PM EDT

A few weeks ago, I asked several BNET readers to track their time. The logs are starting to come in, and while everyone has his own challenges, one common complaint is a too-long commute.
BNET reader Amanda Bledsoe wrote that "I always thought of myself as pretty organized, but since taking a new job last summer that has me commuting 2 hours a day, I'm really struggling.” That hour in the morning was time she'd prefer to be exercising, and the hour in the evening sapped her energy for anything active or creative at night. She'd come up with a few good solutions -- brushing up on her Spanish vocabulary with audiobooks, carpooling, and working from home once a week -- but 8 hours in the car per week is still a lot. How could she use it?

Likewise, BNET reader Aprill Nelson's time logs showed commutes that ranged from 30 minutes to over an hour. She wanted to "spend more time learning about different topics in my industry, which would help me become more productive.” We agreed that her commute would be a great time to do that, but with both of us hunting around, we were coming up short on audio books or courses dealing with petroleum engineering (she's in the oil & gas business).

So what to do? Long-term, we need a work culture that allows for more remote work. We probably need more mass transit, too, not only to lessen traffic, but to give commuters a chance to read or relax rather than battling other drivers.

But in the meantime, this suggests a great opportunity for managers or HR departments to help extreme commuters fill this dead time. Why not create audio training materials dealing with your specific company or industry to help commuters use that time to advance in their careers? There are plenty of broad offerings out there (audio books on business topics, or survey lectures from companies like The Great Courses) but not much that is specific, frequently updated, and as easy to find as shock jocks on the radio. As Nelson put it, "I am considering starting a business that provides daily audio updates and learning materials for professionals.” Seems like there's a big hole in the market here.

What do you do during your commute?
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Photo courtesy flickr user, joey.parsons