Do You Check Your Emails Commuting to Work?

Emails While Commuting WP Edit

Are you likely to check your work emails whilst waiting for the next train? Or do you set up meetings in your online calendar whilst on the bus? New research suggests that these tasks should count as part of your working day.

In a study produced last month by the University of the West of England, 5,000 rail passengers who regularly travelled on routes throughout London were asked how often they check their work emails using Wi-Fi provided on their train. The results showed a clear indication that the percentage of those using train enabled Wi-Fi to conduct out of work activities like sending work related emails, with 54% claiming this to be case.

Emails Extending the Working Day

With their findings showing that commuters heading into work were often using their journey to work to catch up on missed emails during the day or preparing some in advance, there is cause for concern that workers are unnecessarily extending their working day. The extension means that for some workers, there is often an expectation and underlying pressure to act on work tasks or respond to emails even when away from the office.

The BBC added their own thoughts on the study, commenting: “The findings raise questions about the work-life balance – and whether it’s healthy to stretch out the working day with people routinely answering emails beyond office hours. If the journey has become part of work, should it also be recognized as part of working hours?”

‘A Real Challenge in Deciding What Constitutes Work’

If answering and sending work emails outside of the workplace was to count in employee working hours, how would we measure it, and would it benefit workers in the long run? Researcher Dr Juliet Jain queries this and adds further factors for discussion on the subject. “There’s a real challenge in deciding what constitutes work. Counting the journey as work could ease commuter pressure on peak hours travel, allowing more staggered times. But it would also mean that employers would want more surveillance and accountability for how commuters were spending that time before arriving at their desks.”

Jamie Kerr, a member of the Institute of Directors, provides further backing on Jain’s comments, adding: “This increasing flexibility has the potential to radically shift the work-life balance for the better – but also leaves the door open to stress and lower productivity. With the concept of clocking on and clocking off no longer straight forward, defining where leisure begins and work ends will be vital for both employers and individuals, as well as a complex task for regulators.”

Do you think that work emails sent on commutes and while travelling should be factored into the working day?

Or do you feel more should be done to discourage answering and sending work emails outside of office hours?

Let us know your thoughts below.

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Sam Rose

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