Jon Boroshok

College Instructor, PR/Marketing Comm. Specialist, and Journalist

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Commuting: Take The Long Way Home

commuteA USA Today article reports new U.S. Census data showing that “about 8% of workers in the USA have commutes of an hour or longer, and nearly 600,000 full-time workers endure megacommutes of at least an hour-and-a-half and 50 miles.” The article mentions “it took no longer to get to work in 2011 than it did in 2000.

Why aren’t commutes getting shorter? Is it because people like Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer don’t believe in telecommuting? Part of the promise of the information age is that business could be done from anyplace. Broadband access, smart phones, and a buffet table full of technologies enable that. You think she’d practice what she’s selling.

I don’t think it’s a matter of not being able to telecommute. In fact, let’s assume for argument’s sake that Mayer is right. Some industries thrive better on face-to-face collaboration. My industry, marketing communications (public relations advertising, etc.) seems to benefit from the team being together.

The problem isn’t being required to be in the office – it’s getting to the office. Long commutes are made worse by “location, location, location” and the thought that a prestigious address is the doorway to success. A meeting room with a skyline view is no more productive than a suburban office park – it just costs more. Too many people in my industry think it still dazzles clients, but it’s a drain on precious capital, and does little employees that have a “life outside of work.”

Would you run an employment ad offering a 90-minute commute as a perk? Maybe some folks in the San Francisco’s East Bay area or people commuting to Manhattan from Bucks County, PA would find it an improvement, but for most of us, it just means adding three hours to the already bloated work day.

The downtown office might attract a few bright, single twenty-somethings, but with experienced and slightly older professionals living further out in the suburbs (for affordable housing and better schools for their kids), does a downtown location really make sense?

It certainly isn’t family friendly. In a stronger economy, companies may have difficulties attracting qualified employees, as more people shun long commutes.

Isn’t work/life balance a way to attract and retain the best, brightest, and most experienced talent? How does a 60-90 minute commute (each way) help workers achieve balance? The family breadwinner is becoming a stranger in his/her own home. Entirely too many kids are being tucked in by a Smartphone — it’s  bedtime via FaceTime.

missingTrainThe Myth and Miss of Mass Transit

Some argue that taking mass transit beats driving your own car, but they’ve probably never done it for a sustained period of time. Let’s use Boston as an example. When the unemployment rate is lower than what we have now, suburban commuter lots are often full by 7 AM. Leave your house at 6:30, drive to the lot by 6:45, pay to park, and catch the 6:50 train into North or South Station. Arrive in town at 7:50 AM, but unless the office is in the same building as the station, your commute isn’t over yet. Now comes the 10-minute walk (perhaps in pouring rain or on a Polar Vortex day) or a transfer to a subway. You arrive in the office at 8 AM, 90 minutes after leaving home.

Getting home, not only is the process reversed, but if the last meeting or phone call of the day runs even five minutes late, that can mean waiting at least another hour for the next train. Forget about returning quickly in the middle of the afternoon if a child gets sick at daycare – there may be a two-hour gap between trains.

After working a 10+-hour day, spending another two or three hours a day commuting is not a positive contribution to balancing work and family life. Does that trendy bar next to the office matter when you want to get home and have dinner with the family?

A reverse commute to the suburbs from the city can be done in a fraction of the time in most cases, so even urban dwellers can get to the office and back home easily, and perhaps still have time to “play” downtown after work.

Employees living outside the box are being asked to think outside the box – shouldn’t they be allowed to work outside the box too? A downtown location is merely a centralized inconvenience for everyone.  Are your clients paying for results or the view from your conference room? Think it over on your ride home tonight.

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Do You Have The Time To Listen To Me Whine?

GreenDayMy generation had little in common with our parents musically. We were told to “turn down that noise, I can’t even hear myself think.” Tail end Baby Boomers like me, born in the 1960s, are the last generation whose parents didn’t grow up listening to rock and roll.

The generation gap no longer applies to music. My kids and I just fight over what rock to listen to. Sometimes we agree. We even took a road tip to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

This past Fall, my 11 year old son, Tyler, mentioned he’d love to see his favorite band, Green Day, if they ever perform nearby. I like them too, so I looked online, and sure enough, tickets were going on sale for a January 18, 2013 show in Manchester, NH, only 40 minutes from home. We paid to join Idiot Nation, Green Day’s official fan club, which let us buy good seats ahead of the general public.

This would be the first concert we agreed on. When he was little, we saw the Hannah Montana/Jonas Brothers tour (for him), followed the next year by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (for me). We both wanted this one, but Tyler “really really really” wanted it. Tyler learned the riffs to American Idiot and Nuclear Family during his guitar lessons. He counted down the months, Tre, Dos, Uno.

Then Green Day postponed the show. Then they canceled it altogether as Billy Joe Armstrong, the lead singer, needed time to complete rehab. Green Day is back on tour, but they’re not coming anywhere near us. Tyler didn’t want the refund, he wanted the show.

Last week, he had to write a sensory poem for his sixth grade Language Arts class. What you’re about to read is his poem, untouched by parental hands – the honest expression of a disappointed 11 year old rocker. If you’re out there, Green Day, and just happen to read this, please, come to Boston (or better yet, back to Manchester).

Tyler at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame - June 2012

Tyler at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – June 2012

My Dream of Green Day

By Tyler Boroshok

I would love to see Green Day live in show,
playing songs from Dookie, American Idiot, up to Uno.
I can imagine the vocals, the drums, guitar, and bass,

performing my favorite song, Basket Case.
Their rock n roll I find as my sweet, sweet, heaven,
which most people find weird for a kid who’s eleven,
but I don’t care what they say,
because nothing will stop me from listening to Green Day.
I can see them performing in my head,
but it would be cooler to see them live instead.
I can hear the cheers from the crowd,
Green Day fans cheering, and cheering loud.
I’d be along with those screaming fans,
cheering as we hear the wonderful band.
All I needed to hear from Green Day was one song,
because I’ve been a supporting fan all along.
I would ride by train, bus, airplane, or car,
I would travel to see Green Day no matter how far.


Watch Tyler playing Green Day’s “Nuclear Family”