A recent study which examined 5,000 rail passengers on commuter routes into London found that commuters are so regularly using travel time for work emails that researchers said their journeys should be counted as part of the working day.
The study from The University of The West of England found that 54% of commuters who were using the train’s wi-fi were doing so to send work emails whilst other were using personal devices for the same purpose. Those on the way to work were catching up with emails whilst those returning were completing work not finished during ‘working hours’
So, should this then as researchers suggest count as part of the working day?
Our view would be no, for employers a line has to be drawn somewhere if you start paying your employee for time spent working on the train do you then not pay them for the ten minutes they spent talking about last night’s TV whilst making a cup of tea? Of course not.
Technology has enabled much more flexibility over how and where people work but how we count that time depends very much on workplace culture and whilst the study examined the reasons why people chose to work during these times, it didn’t really address whether they felt they ‘had to’ and whether this obvious blurring of work/home life boundaries was actually having a negative impact.
These statistics pose some interesting questions for employers around how many of their own employees are working during the commute (and at other times), how this is recognised and if it’s something which has culturally come to be expected or if it’s just something which they do from personal choice. if the former is true then that’s an issue which needs to be addressed as whilst it’s true that employees can now technically be available 24/7, a culture which takes advantage of that fact isn’t an attractive one to be part of.