Flexibility over proximity: Employee commute has increased to 27 miles

by Time Doctor
employee commute increased

The work landscape is undergoing a dramatic transformation, reshaping not just how we work but also where we live about our workplaces. Significant shift towards remote and hybrid work models, compelling both employees and employers to rethink the traditional confines of the office. This article delves into the latest statistics and trends that are shaping the future of work.

The great expansion: Employees moving farther away

  • Before vs. after: In 2019, the average commute was a mere 10 miles. Fast forward to the end of 2023, and this distance has more than doubled to 27 miles. This leap, documented by researchers including Nicholas Bloom and using data from Gusto, highlights the changing dynamics of workplace commutes.
  • Why the move?: The pivot towards remote and hybrid work models is the primary catalyst. Employees are prioritizing flexibility over proximity, a trend further facilitated by employers’ willingness to look beyond geographical boundaries for talent.

Hybrid and remote work

  • Statistical insights: Research co-authored by Gusto’s principal economist Liz Wilke and Nicholas Bloom points to a significant increase in employee-employer distance, especially for workers hired post-pandemic onset. For these employees, the average commute distance surged by 16 miles by December 2023.
  • A Broader trend: This embrace of distance is part of a larger movement towards flexible work arrangements. Data from Bloom’s WFH Research group reveals that work-from-home time stabilized at around 30% of paid days in 2023, indicating a robust and lasting shift.
Remote workforce tripled since pre-pandemic

The demographics of distance

The trend is particularly pronounced among higher-earning workers and millennials. For the latter, especially those aged 35 to 39, the distance to work has almost tripled since 2019.

This demographic shift suggests that as millennials reach key life stages, such as parenting, they are leveraging remote and hybrid work for greater work-life balance


The data presents a clear picture: the future of work is flexible, remote, and unbound by geographic limitations. This evolution offers both challenges and opportunities, from the need for innovative workforce management to the potential for accessing a broader talent pool.

As we move forward, it’s essential for both employers and employees to navigate this new landscape thoughtfully, embracing the possibilities that remote and hybrid work models provide.

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