Measuring Distance by Journey Duration

At a meeting of our remote workers group the other day I noticed how competitive people are about how far they are away from their Microsoft office. It's almost like you get a prize for being the remotest (hopefully measured by location and not character trait). What set me thinking was how the different people measured their remote distance.

For example, early contributors to the discussion expressed the distance in miles. Starting at about fifty the figure steadily increased until one person decided that their remote distance was "three hours". Though they did then qualify it with "180 miles" and mention that this was driving time in a car. I suppose if you don't own a car, three hours could be 40 miles on a bus (based on the journey times and regular stops in my neck of the woods), or 12 miles walking. So hours doesn't seem to be much of a useful distance measurement scale.

In fact it reminded me of a conversation I had some while ago (in my pre-Softie days) with a nice lady from Digital River in Minneapolis. At the time they were selling my software, and the nice lady had just been appointed as my marketing representative. She suggested I should call and see them when I was nearby and I happily agreed, even though I had no idea at the time where in the US the state of Minnesota is. But I often passed through Chicago airport in those days, and when I mentioned this she helpfully suggested that it was only a couple of hours from their office. "Great," I said, "Next time I'm over I'll hire a car and call in." To which she replied "Err, no, that's two hours by 'plane..."

So now I have another measure of distance - how far away somewhere is when flying there. Here in Ye Olde England a distance of two hours by air covers something like nine countries. Being a remote worker where there are a couple of whole countries between you and the office surely wins some kind of prize.

But getting back to the discussion at our meeting, I decided not to upset the rest of the group by mentioning that I'm 4,791 miles away from my office as the crow flies. Or, by plane via Amsterdam (my usual route) 5,935 miles away. And the trip, end to end, takes about 23 hours. But if I said I was 23 hours away, somebody would just suggest that I went the other way round the world because then it would take only an hour.

Or, if I was walking, it would only be four miles...

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