Ditching the Commute: New ARC Survey Shows Big Rise in Teleworkers

Man teleworking in Atlanta

How’s this for a commute? A short walk from the bedroom to the home office or kitchen table.

This is becoming commonplace, as more and more metro Atlanta residents are working at least some of the time at home.

That’s according to the latest Regional Commuter Survey from the Atlanta Regional Commission, which found that 41% of the region’s commuters teleworked at least occasionally – up from 22% in 2007, the survey’s first year.

In raw numbers, that means nearly 1.2 million people are teleworking at least occasionally, with more than 600,000 teleworking at least once a week.

And the demand is sky-high: A whopping 80% of those who don’t telework said they’d want to if their workplace offered a formal program.

The survey, which is statistically valid, is full of these kind of nuggets. The data is used by regional transportation planners as well as the folks at ARC who manage the Georgia Commute Options program, which works to encourage people who drive alone to switch to a commute alternative like transit, carpooling, or teleworking.

Here are some of the other highlights from the survey.

Most of us still drive alone to work …

In any given week, three of four trips to work are made by commuters driving alone.

One of the things standing in the way of change: Free parking, which makes switching to transit or other alternatives less appealing. About eight of 10 of commuters said they park for free at their work site or receive free parking from their employer.

… But there’s an opportunity to change that trend

Nearly one in six commuters who drove alone said they would be able to use transit to get to work at least some of the time.

So, what’s stopping them? They survey found the biggest barrier to transit use is time – they felt it would just take too long. Those who have switched said saving money and avoiding congestion were the biggest factors in their decision.

In addition, 21% of respondents who did not carpool or vanpool said they would be able to do so on occasion.

Commuters turning to tech to help with commute

About 80% of commuters have used applications on mobile devices to access real-time travel or trip information. Hello Google Map and Waze, among others.

More than four in 10 had used apps for ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft.  Social media as a source of travel information for commuters has increased significantly to 28%, up from just 1% in the 2014 results.

Where are we headed? Major job centers and intra-county destinations most common

While some days it may seem everyone’s on the freeway headed into town, a sizable number of trips taken are by people who stay within their counties. For example, the survey found 49% of Gwinnett commuters and 45% of Cobb commuters traveled to destinations within their home county.

Our commutes are heavily influencing where we live and work

About two in three commuters said the length or ease of their commute was a factor in deciding where to live or work.

Other survey findings

  • The average commute to work took 40 minutes, while 12% had super-long commutes that lasted over an hour. A fortunate 8% had commutes of less than 10 minutes.
  • The average commute, by distance, was 19 miles.
  • Nearly 1 in 10 commuters use transit to get to work at least one day a week. An additional 9% said they could use transit to get to work but were not currently doing so.
  • About two in three commuters said the length or ease of their commute was a factor in deciding where to live or work.

What’s Next ATL, produced by the Atlanta Regional Commission, is a community resource that explores how metro Atlanta is growing and changing, and how the region is addressing its most pressing challenges.