When The Lifetime Value Company made the transition to full-time remote work in March 2020, our employees who had been working in our New York and Costa Rica offices had a bit of a transition to make now that they no longer had to commute.
Our teams have adjusted well to “work from home” life, but as the change set in we heard some unexpected murmurs: While not having a commute was a net good for most, some struggled without the built-in designation between work and personal time. That’s why we decided to run a virtual commute experiment and have volunteers log their “commute” to and from their home offices.
Why document our virtual commutes?
From rainy days to traffic and subway delays, there are certainly aspects of commuting that we don’t mind leaving behind. However, the daily commute also offered a transition time between home and work, and recent studies indicate that people are missing this time.
Intrigued by this premise, we decided to test a virtual “commute,” a dedicated time during which our employees could prepare for and end their workdays. Research has shown that implementing a virtual commute can boost job performance, improve relationships and increase overall health and wellness. We hoped our employees would reap these benefits through our experiment.
What our virtual commutes looked like
We asked our employees to document the tasks they completed during their morning and evening virtual commutes. The activities closely mirrored those expected in a typical commute. However, “commuting” from home also allowed our employees more time and flexibility than a standard trip to work would allow.
The morning virtual commute largely centered around getting in the right mindset for the day ahead. Exercise and enjoying breakfast or coffee were among the most popular tasks. Our employees also used the time to take care of their pets, organize their to-do lists and prioritize self-care and mental health activities.
The evening virtual commute, on the other hand, offered our employees a set time to step away from their stations and wind down from the day. Activities included reading or listening to podcasts, going for a walk, enjoying a drink or preparing dinner and spending time on hobbies.
What our employees thought of the experiment
We asked our employees to share their thoughts on our virtual commute experiment. The results were overall positive: most of the participants reported improved health and wellness, as well as having an easier time disconnecting from work.
“My morning virtual commute has been very helpful in getting my mind in the right place for the day,” said LTV employee Emily.
Emily has been starting her day with 10 to 15 minutes of yoga, which leaves her enough time to get dressed and enjoy breakfast and coffee before opening her laptop.
She noted that the virtual commute “home” has been harder to implement, as her schedule doesn’t align with her parents’, making it difficult to find the right time to wind down. Still, Emily reported, “reading has been a really great way for me to erase the frustrations of the day and take my eyes off a screen.”
All participants reported that the virtual commute helped them organize their day, while creating time for themselves to relax and disconnect. While things like exercise, reading and other personal activities were already things many employees made time for, the simple act of setting aside dedicated time made it that much easier to fully focus on them.
Read more about our transition to a fully-remote workforce in this blog post.