Many professionals and office goers utilise the time spent travelling to and from work productively, by checking their official mails. A research conducted by the University of West England studied five thousand people commuting by train only to discover that more than half of them read, wrote and replied to e-mails throughout their journey.
With internet access available on trains, employees in Britain ended up working beyond their offices. As per the research, if commuting time were to be considered as working time, the effects —both social and economic—would be many.
From the perspective of the railways, it will release the pressure of commuters during rush hour. It will make commuting more comfortable, and flexibility can be expected. Some amount of monitoring will have to be done and a certain level of answerability for productivity should also exist. However, to make this really work, train operators, together with the telecom companies in Britain will have to invest in and make tables, power, and smooth connectivity—in short, a good working environment—available for commuters.
In Norway, travel time of the workers is counted as part of their working hours/time.
The research studied the usage of free Wi-Fi available on two major routes. Over a period of 40 weeks, the availability of free Wi-Fi was gradually increased, and it was found that commuters took maximum advantage of the same. This clearly means that employees as well as organisations make the most of flexible working practices.
The option of working and e-mailing at one’s pace, when convenient, while travelling is valued by workers, who find it easy to strike a balance between work and home. This kind of flexibility results in loyal staff for the employers.
In India, a survey conducted last year showed that over 52 per cent Indians couldn’t survive a single day without checking their mails (personal or official). 57 per cent said that unplugging their mobiles made them anxious. 29 per cent admitted that they checked e-mails consistently throughout the day, and only 40 per cent were willing to step out of their house without their smartphones.
In such a scenario, working while commuting seems quite plausible in India too, especially since many employees end up staying back at office and working late too.