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Do You Check Your Work Emails While Commuting? Well Here's A Good News

A report shows why Internet access is as important for commuters as business travellers
Do You Check Your Work Emails While Commuting? Well Here's A Good News
Image credit: Pixabay
Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia-Pacific
3 min read


Long commutes to work can be a real pain, especially when you are relying on public transport. To use their time judicially, commuters respond to emails and clear off pending tasks. If you also use free Wi-Fi provision on your journey to catch up with work emails, then your commute time should be counted as work, says a study presented last month at the Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference held at Cardiff University in the UK.

Free Wi-Fi Access

To reach this conclusion, researchers from the University of the West of England have been analysed the uptake of free Wi-Fi by 5,000 passengers in the UK on two of Chiltern Railways' major routes, London/Birmingham and London/Aylesbury.

“If travel time were to count as work time, there would be many social and economic impacts, as well as implications for the rail industry. It may ease commuter pressure on peak hours and allow for more comfort and flexibility around working times. However, it may also demand more surveillance and accountability for productivity,” researcher Juliet Jain, University of the West of England, said at the conference.

The interviews with customers showed why Internet access was as important for commuters as business travellers. Many respondents expressed how they consider their commute as time to “catch up” with work, before or after their traditional working day. This transitional time also enabled people to switch roles, for example, from being a parent getting the children ready for school in the morning to a business director during the day. The researchers looked to Scandinavia to see how commuting time could be measured differently and found that in Norway some commuters are able to count travel time as part of their working day.

New Measures

The after-hours work communication can damage workplace productivity. Taking this into consideration, countries like France have passed a law for banning work emails after work. The "right to disconnect" law is a proposed human right regarding the ability of people to disconnect from work and primarily not to engage in work-related electronic communications such as e-mails and messages during non-work hours. Several countries, primarily in Europe, have some form of the right to disconnect included in their law, while in some cases it is present in the policy of many large companies.

Joining France is the New York City that introduced a "right to disconnect" bill in March sponsored by the city councilman Rafael Espinal. The bill advocates for the rights of employees to stop answering work-related emails and other digital messages, like texts, after official work hours. Now, it would be interesting to see if other countries will also adopt the idea of giving their employees a break from work emails.

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