Think your commute is tough? Our COO, Erik Church, lives in Toronto and works in Vancouver -- that's a 2,000 mile journey to the office every week.

He's not the only "super-commuter" out there: as much as 10% of the working population travels more than 180 miles to get to work, and that number is likely to grow as more companies reach outside their geography for top talent. In Europe, the number of people living and working in another country increased by 40% over the last decade.

Technology might make it possible to work from anywhere, but in-office time is still critical. For Erik, getting face time means jumping on a five hour flight, twice a week, every week.

Not all of of us fly to the office on a weekly basis, but even local commuters, or people who travel often for work, might learn a thing or two from our very own super-commuter. Here's some insider tips from how to make the most of travel time.

Map Out Your Time In-Transit Like a Workday

Erik typically catches a 6:30 a.m. flight on Monday morning, and heads back to Toronto Thursday afternoon; that amounts to 10 hours in the air each week, roughly equivalent to a full workday. He's grown to treasure those uninterrupted hours as a highly productive working time that allows him total focus.

Whether you're flying long distances or just riding transit every day, the trick is pre-planning the time. Research shows that people who map out their day or set an agenda can increase productivity by 25%.

You wouldn't show up for a meeting without some prep, so get on that plane or train with a strategy for your commute. Erik and his EA make sure he has an agenda for his flights with outcome goals, plus any printouts or files he might need, so he can settle in to organize his inbox, analyze budgets or read performance reviews -- never wasting a moment.

Align Travel Schedules for Meetings on the Go

Another way to maximize transit time is to squeeze in important meetings. At O2E Brands, we share our travel schedules, so executives heading to the same destination can go together to cover some serious ground (in more ways than one). If you can fly, bus, or train together, you can work together, too.

A few weeks ago, Erik and I both had to be in Montreal, so we booked side-by-side seats on the plane. Then we were able to spend five hours discussing some big-picture projects and brainstorming some new ideas. It's hard to find blocks of quality time like that in the office.

Make the Most of Face Time

Maintaining exceptional corporate culture has been integral to our success, and presence is a huge part of that. With that in mind, Erik ensures that his time at headquarters is focused on working with other people.

Video conferencing is useful, but it can never truly replace face-to-face interaction: verbal cues and body language help create strong personal relationships between co-workers, and in-person meetings generate 30% more ideas than digital interactions. Erik has no private office, so he constantly moves around the office and interacts with people from different departments. It gives him insight into relationships and projects that would be impossible to get over the phone.

Perfect Your Balancing Act

Finally, Erik's number one tip for commuters is to remember work-life balance. When you're working half a country (or even a few hours) away from home, it can be hard to prioritize personal well-being and relationships. That's why he dedicates time to talk to his family every day via Facetime, and has a strict no-calls-no-emails policy for when he's home on the weekends.

At the end of the day, as important as your work may be, your happiness affects productivity and job satisfaction. So take care of that with the same attention and planning as you put into your super commute.

Published on: Dec 26, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.