WSJ Reporter's Weekly Commute from Ohio to NYC Sparks Debate on 'Supercommuting'

Journalist's 500-mile weekly commute from Ohio to NYC sparks debate on "supercommuting" and work-life balance in the post-pandemic era.

Ebenezer Mensah
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WSJ Reporter's Weekly Commute from Ohio to NYC Sparks Debate on 'Supercommuting'

WSJ Reporter's Weekly Commute from Ohio to NYC Sparks Debate on 'Supercommuting'

The story of a Wall Street Journal reporter's weekly commute from her home in Ohio to her office in New York City has ignited a conversation about the growing trend of "supercommuting" - traveling long distances for work on a regular basis. Erin Ailworth, a 39-year-old journalist, undertakes the 500-mile commute every week, spending 4-5 hours each way on a combination of planes and trains.

Ailworth's unique situation highlights the lengths some workers are willing to go to balance their professional and personal lives. She chose to remain based in Cleveland, where her husband works and they own a home, rather than relocate when she took the job at the Journal's New York headquarters. "I love my job, but I also love my life in Cleveland," Ailworth explained.

While the concept of supercommuting is not new, it appears to be on the rise as remote work has become more common in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent study by the apartment search website RentCafe found that the number of supercommuters - defined as those traveling more than 90 minutes each way to work - increased by 45% between 2010 and 2019.

However, some experts caution that supercommuting can take a toll on individuals and their families. "It's not sustainable long-term," said Abbie Shipp, a management professor at Texas Christian University who studies work-life balance. "There's a physical and emotional cost to spending that much time traveling."

Why this matters: The trend of supercommuting raises important questions about work-life balance, the impact of long commutes on mental and physical health, and the role of remote work in the post-pandemic world. As more companies consider flexible work arrangements, the experiences of supercommuters like Ailworth offer valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities of this approach.

For Ailworth, the benefits of maintaining her life in Cleveland outweigh the challenges of her lengthy commute. She uses the travel time to catch up on work or relax with a book or podcast. "It's not for everyone," she acknowledged, "but for me, it's worth it to have the best of both worlds."

Key Takeaways

  • Erin Ailworth, a WSJ reporter, commutes 500 miles weekly from Ohio to NYC.
  • Supercommuting, traveling >90 mins each way, increased 45% from 2010-2019.
  • Experts warn supercommuting is unsustainable due to physical and emotional costs.
  • Remote work has enabled supercommuting, but work-life balance remains a challenge.
  • Ailworth chooses to maintain her life in Cleveland despite the lengthy commute.