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Leaving Early May Cost You Time 678

markmcb writes "OmniNerd has an interesting traffic article demonstrating how leaving early for work may cost you time. Brandon Hansen uses a year's worth of data collected on his urban drive to and from work along with statistical analysis to show the effects of varying departure times and considering external factors like nearby school districts' schedules. In the end, a minor shift in his departure time results in saving driving hours equivalent to over a third of the vacation time given annually by his employer."
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Leaving Early May Cost You Time

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  • Re:What rush hour? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pvt_medic ( 715692 ) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @07:45PM (#15186915)
    very good idea, I had a boss once who did that. Was in at work at 5AM and was going by 1. Most people admitted thought it was the commute but like you, he found the real value of just not having anyone else around for the first couple of hours. Invaluable for ones sanity.
  • great (Score:2, Interesting)

    by drgroove ( 631550 ) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @07:47PM (#15186923)
    now my boss can site statistical analysis in his list of reasons as to why I should work more overtime.

    thanks a lot, guys.
  • Choose wisely... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gansch ( 939712 ) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @07:52PM (#15186952)
    Where you live and work is a choice, and I don't want to have to listen to anyone complain about a situation that is his or her own fault. If you don't like the commute, live closer to work or use alternative forms of transportation. Personally, I choose a long commute to live where I play and commute about 45 min to work, but I made an informed decision (taking into account traffic, my schedule, etc.) before committing myself to both locations. If you can minimize your commute, great; if not, do not complain about the situation you have chosen.
  • Re:What rush hour? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gojira Shipi-Taro ( 465802 ) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @08:06PM (#15187015) Homepage
    I just wish that coming in earlier meant leaving earlier.

    That's the entire reason (sleepcycle not withstanding) that I prefer the "later" strategy. A co-worker of mine gets in early (because he gets up early due to his wife's work schedule) He constantly bemoans the fact that he doesn't get recognition for the extra time, and has to stay to normal end-of-work because no managers are there nearly so early.

    As the "doctor" says... "well stop doing that then..."

    I don't consider it a time savings if my employer is the sole benificiary... I'd rather spend a few hours doing things around the house and go in AFTER rush hour if I got up that early anyhow. That way my saved time is MINE.
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @08:12PM (#15187047) Homepage
    This is not true in most metro areas. Espically in large metro areas the size of Detroit, Chicago,NY or other huge city.

    I tried big time to find the windows of opportunity to make it in to and out of detroit without sitting stopped for 30-60 minutes because some idiot creamed himself all over the 696.

    I found there are several windows, in the morning, any time from 6:00am until 7:39am you MUST be past Novi and heading into detroit or you will be screwed and late to work by a minimum of 1/2 hour because of the above mentioned idiot. Leaving for home has some very strange windows of opportunity. at 4:00pm to 5:00pm you are as screwed as if you left at 5:00pm. BUT, 5:15-5:30 is a window that will give you a clear drive. after 5:30 it's a parking lot again until 6:15 and then 7:00pm-7:00am finally, construction completely thorws everything off and those guys at the State love to screw with traffic. HOV lanes usually will not work well because big time congestion will spill over into the HOV lanes (Detroit does not believe in HOV lanes, I'm waiting for Hummer and other vehicles that get less than 7mpg and less than 2 passenger lanes in the state)

    Anyone with a simple logbook and about 30 days of driving the same route modifying departure times by 10 minutes each day will get the data they need.

    When school is out, things change so re-run the data collection... same for construction that takes 1+ years.

    It is not hard to get the data. But it is fun to give a smug wave to the ass that blew past you at 90mph about 20-30 minutes ago as you pass him stopped in traffic because you chosae the correct lane to stay in while he keeps switching lane to lane. (speeding get's you nothing in metro highway driving, anyone that pays attention knows this.)

    The only real solution is to work for an employer that is not moronic and allows work times to be shifted and also allows Telecommuting. IT blows my mind how many managers are so low IQ that they can comprehend that shifting 1/2 your IT department's schedule by 1 hour will make a huge difference in morale and even gives the department an advantage in serving the rest of the company..
  • by COredneck ( 598733 ) * on Sunday April 23, 2006 @09:07PM (#15187247)
    In the early 1990's, I worked for a company in the NW side of Indianapolis by the three Pyramids that was a strict 8am to 5pm schedule. Where I lived at, I was about 15 miles from work. I usually left for the office around 6:45 and I usually arrived at 7:05. Before 8am, I got quite a few things done before the phone calls start coming. I did programming at the time. I was the primary person who supported the company plants on their software. At the end of the day, I would leave around 4:35pm. A wave of people leave at 4:30pm and 4:45pm from other businesses in the area. I took me about 20 minutes to get home when I left at 4:35pm. If I left at 4:45pm, I would not get home until around 5:20pm. If I left at the standard 5pm, I would get home at almost 6pm At the time, flex time was not prevalent - almost all companies worked on a 9 to 5 schedule.

    In my current job, our company is pretty generous with flex time. I usually get into work ranging from 5am to 6am. There is little or no traffic and because of that, I don't have any road rage dealing with idiot drivers. On Mon and Tue, I usually work until 3 to 5pm to get some hours built up. Wed and Thu, I leave earlier and don't have to deal with the traffic on the way home and Friday is my short day.

    In my previous job I left from back in October, our company worked with another company who is the prime contractor - gov't contracting for inquiring minds. The company I worked for was generous but the prime contractor was not. They were basically a 7am to 4pm operation. They do not like people leaving early especially on Friday. Some of our poeple had to go work at their facility and the first things they were told was they were expected to be there during normal business hours and comply with a dress code - dress slacks/pants were required, no jeans.

    I was told this at one time, "It doesn't matter how early you get in, it is how late you stay that counts !". In some companies, even if the company offers flex time, there would be unwritten rules against taking it or it would be an unwritten rule that it was a perk for those who management liked.
  • Re:Doing the math... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pablodiazgutierrez ( 756813 ) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @09:52PM (#15187388) Homepage
    I don't know about anyone else, but I mock it because it's so obviously unsustainable in the long run. "Free" health care that means waiting endless amounts of time for routine surgeries...

    Well, Sweden, Norway, Canada, etc., have been doing this for a while, and they seem to do quite well. Sure, they might not have the strongest economies in the world, but I bet you they wouldn't change their social rights for the US system. Heck, even in Spain we have a much better health system than the US with twice the GDP per capita.

    A work force that gets so spoiled that they riot in France because they're not given a job for life!.

    The French riots (the most recent ones) were not exactly for "not being given a job for life". But that doesn't mean that I agree with them, anyway.

  • by cashman73 ( 855518 ) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @10:03PM (#15187416) Journal
    Yes, there are definitely advantages of living in a small town. Here in Flagstaff, Arizona (est. pop. 65,000), you can come and go from work any time you want,... no need to worry about this thing they call traffic. Thankfully, I don't live on US 89, either. That's the road the goes to the Grand Canyon, which does get a bit congested, particularly during the summer months.

    Now, travelling I-17 down to Phoenix, that's another story. I-17 gets backed up (both northbound and southbound) every friday afternoon, starting at about 2 or 3 pm, going until past 7 or 8 pm. Usually backed up from the Carefree Highway all the way to the Loop 101. Once you get on the 101, it's ok, but be careful for those Scottsdale Speed Cameras that like to take your picture for going too fast (or just smile when you go past ;-) ...

  • Re:What rush hour? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hazem ( 472289 ) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @10:09PM (#15187430) Journal

    Is his schedule any worse than the boss that is out for weeks at a time on business trips?

    If having a wonky schedule is the worst thing a "shitty" boss has done for you, then I think you're doing pretty well. Try one that:

      - berates you in front of other people
      - takes credit for your good work
      - blames you when explaining to their superiors why something they were tasked with didn't happen
      - actively works to undercut any chance of advancement into other departments
      - denies you the chance to work on a fulfilling project for no good reason
      - tells you to do something one way, then publicly tries to humiliate you for not doing it the way they "really meant"
      - knows they have to have you do a certain task for them for weeks, but waits until mere hours before the board presentation before actually telling you they need the work done
      - demands you cancel a vacation (family reunion) that you've planned for months, along with work contingencies, just because they MIGHT need you to help with a board presentation
      - parks his car in the short-term parking at the airport for a 2 week business trip because he was too lazy to park in long term (or take a cab/limo), and then claims we don't have enough money in the budget for essential things like replacing broken computers

    Those things make for a shitty boss. A wonky schedule is not so bad - and in fact, probably indicates that I might get some flexibility in my own schedule - which is something I value a lot.

    As for commuting, my current situation works well. I often work from home in the mornings until 9:30 or 10:0 and then drive to work. I can sit and answer e-mails from anywhere. With the delay on coming in, I get a nice short commute and I'm a happy worker.
  • bicycle commute (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dotmax ( 642602 ) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @10:19PM (#15187458)
    Not to be trite or bitchy (seriously) but it is often possible -- and it can take a "little" planning and saving -- to live within bicycling distance or public transportation distance from your job.

    I do. I lived in a crap-hole apt. for several years while saving my bucks and then bought a house at precisely the perfect cycling distance from work, between 7 miles [] and 9 miles []. Now i have two 25~35 minute mini-vacations every day.

    Seriously: the worst day bicycle commuting beats a good day car commutting. YMMV, but it may be an option for some of you. If it is, thimk about it.

  • by jheath314 ( 916607 ) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @10:24PM (#15187473)
    GP phrased the point badly.

    The French argue that their productivity is lower only because they spend less off their lives in the work place, and there is some truth to that. If you look at the productivity per hour worked, instead of productivity per real-time year, France comes out ahead of the United States. In effect, it's "work hard, play hard", as opposed to "work endlessly".
  • Re:What rush hour? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tweekster ( 949766 ) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @10:26PM (#15187480)
    WOW, you couldnt be more wrong. a boss only needs to be around to solve problems, If there are no problems, he shouldnt be around interfering... My boss was gone for over a week this month and the entire office managed to run smoothly without him. A boss needs to be aware of what is going on, if that takes 1 hour a week so be it. he needs to be aware of problems, hopefully with some insight in the future. and most importantly, he needs to leave you the hell alone.
  • by scumdamn ( 82357 ) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @10:57PM (#15187569)
    I have the choice of either riding my bike or taking the bus. If I ride the bike to work, I usually get there before I would if I had taken the bus. However, since the ride home is uphill most of the way, the bus is significantly faster. My compromise is to take my bike and buy a monthly bus pass for $10. I can put the bike on the rack on the front of the bus and (in case the bus is late) I can ride all or part of the way to work (I have one transfer). I typically load the computer up with news (slashdot, msnbc, cnn), opinion (dailykos, talkingpointsmemo), and comics (too many to list). It's much more enjoyable than driving.
  • by john_uy ( 187459 ) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @11:00PM (#15187573)
    if most people will leave outside of the rush hour, then i guess, they will all be stuck in the same type of rush hour traffic and this will no longer be true.

    maybe there should be a way where offices are opened and closed gradually. maybe like schools be open at 7, government offices at 7:30, manufacturing at 8:00, others at 8:30. (i am not sure about the volume of traffic for each segment but you get the idea.) closing time will be graduated too. i guess the problem is with the peak loads. distribute the surge and it will be better for everyone.

    employers should try to consider telecommuting as much as possible in this case.
  • by MaxPowerDJ ( 888947 ) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @11:06PM (#15187595) Journal
    I live 25 minutes away from work. During rush hour, that number goes up to an hour 30 (anyone asking, this is the dreaded commute from Caguas, PR to San Juan, PR). What I do to beat the traffic is that I wake up at 3:30. I usually leave my house around 4, 4:15(at 5am, there's already transit going to San Juan). I get to my office at 15 minutes to 5am. I get the best parking spot(no parking in the building), plus I get around two and a half hours of sleep in my car before getting to the office (>3 min walk). I start my day relaxed at 8am after a nice breakfast, and I am very productive during the day.

    When I go back home, I usually bite the bullet and take the hour long (hopefully) trip back home. I have a lot of advantage over the other drivers because I only go through rush hour once. They have these desperate faces, and I am just relaxed with my iPod-iTrip combo, listening to some tunes while I get home.
  • by sinewalker ( 686056 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @12:33AM (#15187862) Homepage
    I commute by train (when not telecomuting, that is). It's a 1.5 hour trip in each direction. It would be 45-50 minutes to drive it. In my busy life with a new family, this actually gains me time for reading a book, or watching a DVD, or even (if I'm extremely bored) catching up on email! I would not get this at home, trust me! Here's some quick math: 3 hours per day, 5 days a week for 50 weeks = 750 hours all to myself (about a month - 31.25 days per anum)! Even if I had to work for half of that time while I commute, it's still an extra 2 weeks every year, for reading a good book. I highly recommend it for people who would otherwise not get a spare hour or two to themselves. That is, if trains or other public transport which you do not have to drive are an option to you.
  • by Shimmer ( 3036 ) <> on Monday April 24, 2006 @01:12AM (#15187963) Homepage Journal
    With your family, that is.

    The primary goal isn't to minimize the time spent driving (though that would be nice). The goal is to maximize time with your friends, family, hobby, etc. Staying late to avoid rush hour is pointless if you have somewhere you want to get to.
  • Re:Impossible (Score:3, Interesting)

    by caluml ( 551744 ) <slashdot@spamgoe ... g ['m.o' in gap]> on Monday April 24, 2006 @04:09AM (#15188356) Homepage
    The second car is a Hayabusa Turbo []. Yes, it's in mph.
  • Re:well... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mks113 ( 208282 ) <> on Monday April 24, 2006 @05:08AM (#15188483) Homepage Journal
    My 1 minute walk to the office would be a lot less inconvenient if I had something other than dial-up in my home.

    Of course I'm in the middle of africa, so having internet at all is a bonus.
  • by AGMW ( 594303 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @06:23AM (#15188702) Homepage
    High Occupancy Vehicle.

    Being a driver of a small car with only two seats, I'd like to see this concept flipped on it's head, and offer a lane to people who have fewer than a certain number of empty seats! This might keep the massive vehicles, like people-carriers, with just Mum + baby Tarquin or Jocaster, out of the way!

  • Re:Doing the math... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MaxInBxl ( 961814 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @07:11AM (#15188822)
    I've worked 5+ years in France and I'm now currently residing in Brussels, Belgium. I work in the private sector but most of my company's clients are (and were, also when working in France) from the public sector. Now, the French law states that people work 35h a week in France. If you think that this applies to everyone you are out of your mind. Only the public sector digilently works 35 hours / week. In the private sector when you're not doing a very low-level job your are quietly required to work more than 35 hours a week. It's a given and everyone does it. I don't personnaly know anyone in the private sector who works 35 hours a week. Everyone does (unpaid) overtime. This could explain why French productivity / hour is high: simply because the numbers are skewed.
  • by m0nstr42 ( 914269 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @08:02AM (#15188995) Homepage Journal
    The goal is to maximize time with your friends, family, hobby, etc. Staying late to avoid rush hour is pointless if you have somewhere you want to get to.

    Amen. Winning the traffic game is silly if the only one benefitting from it is your employer.
  • Re:Rule of 13 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lotharus ( 900727 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:29AM (#15189696) Homepage
    That is exactly how it really works. Come in early, all the boss sees is "you're leaving early every day." Stay late, all the boss sees is "you're late to work every day." Nevermind that part of my daily tasks include backup routines that couldn't be automated (limitations of the software), and had to be done after everyone else was out of the system. The joys of working for people who really have no grasp on (or any interest in having same) the way things really operate.
  • School Zones (Score:2, Interesting)

    by darthservo ( 942083 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @12:26PM (#15190592)
    I have to agree with the point about school zones. I live in Salem, OR - not a big city by any means (131,000 people), but good enough sized that it is not immune to traffic congestion.

    I live only 4 miles from my office. Depending on the time of day/year that I leave, it can take anywhere between 5-15 minutes. During the summer months it is typically less congested in the morning, and the same is true for winter/spring break - no buses or parents frantically trying to get their kids to school.

    As a side note, the Oregon legislature decided almost 2 years back that little Timmy should be protected at 2AM on Christmas morning if Timmy so decides to visit the school grounds. This means that some school zones (areas that are normally 25-30mph) are in effect 24/7/365, meaning all traffic must bottleneck down to 20mph even if school is not in session at that time. I've heard they may be reconsidering this law, to lessen the time constraints.

  • Re:Doing the math... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by smellsofbikes ( 890263 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @01:05PM (#15190897) Journal
    I don't know that this is still the case but many economists in the '80's found that if given a choice between getting a raise, and having a reduced workweek, a significant majority of Americans would choose the reduced workweek. It's probably NOT still the case, since an increasing number of Americans are in financial crises. So one question might be: why are Americans increasingly in debt (and as a result self-required to work more?) Part of THAT might have to do with perception of relative affluence: people seem to think that they have to buy more to keep up with other people. (People in a static society with absolute poverty are, over time, shown to be happier than people who have less than median income/affluence in a society with lots of upwards mobility.)
  • Astronomical Commute (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SEWilco ( 27983 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @02:51PM (#15191742) Journal
    He neglected to include astronomical factors. At some times of the year he may be experiencing sunrise and sunset slowdowns, as drivers slow due to glare from the sun being directly in front of them. The spring period when he noticed a slowdown in the evening could be due to driving nearly directly west (he did not describe his route, but his house is to the northwest). My guess is that on his drive home he uses the major road toward the west which has a few curves in it, with drivers being bothered by the sun just after each curve.

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!