Based on a recent study, out of 5,000 commuters, 54 percent were using commute time on a train to send and check work emails, BBC News reports. This is due to the wider availability of Wi-Fi and the increased usage of mobile devices.
BBC News says that people “on the way to work were catching up with emails sent ahead of the coming day – while those on the return journey were finishing off work not completed during regular working hours.”
Employees who were busy parents said they took advantage of this time to finish up work so that their evenings were freed up later. This time was also used to “transition” from their role at work to their role as a parent. Similarly, others used their time on the train to decompress from the day. “The majority of the time it’s an option for me to, you know, clear the decks for the day, relax and put work behind me more than anything else,” said a passenger in the study.
Takeaways for decision makers – clear the blurred lines:
While this commute time, which is often called “dead time,” proved productive to some, the study showed it might be doing more harm than good. Specifically, the study demonstrated that people were putting in extra working hours when checking email on the go, BBC News says. As a result, this clouded the clarity between work and life, an item that is already blurry in today’s working culture.
Further, Julia Jain, a researcher involved in the study, said that if travel time eventually counted as working time, then employers might “want more surveillance and accountability for how commuters were spending that time before arriving at their desks.” This could put a dent in employees’ moral, and might leave “the door to stress and lower productivity.”
As a result, decision makers might want to consider this study before implementing a work culture shift. Take a step back and evaluate the current company culture, and how employees are using their time. Jamie Kerr, from the Institute of Directors, suggests through BBC News that decision makers make the culture and line between work life and home life crystal clear: “defining where leisure begins and work ends will be vital for both employers and individuals, as well as a complex task for regulators,” he says.