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New Study Claims Emails Done While Commuting Should Count As Work

New Study Claims Emails Done While Commuting Should Count As Work
Researchers say that the time that is spent by commuters on work related e-mails while travelling needs to be treated as part of their working day.
A study from the University of the West of England says that the typical working day has been extended because of the easier access to wi-fi on trains and the spread of mobile phones.
5,000 rail passengers on commuter routes into London which had wi-fi were examined in the study.
"I am a busy mum and I rely on that time," one commuter told researchers. "It's really important to my sanity that I can get work done on the train," she said, on the Aylesbury to London route.
The study found that 54 per cent of commuters make use of the wi-fi available on the trains to answer work e-mails. The study is to be presented at the Royal Geographical Society.
Those e-mails that are sent before the start of the working day are accessed by those on the way to work while people returning home on the train were found to be finishing off their day’s work that they had not managed to complete during the day.
"It's dead time in a way, so what it allows me to do is finish stuff and not work in the evenings," said a commuter on the London to Birmingham route to the researchers.
The aim of the study was to compute the impact of the free wi-fi that is currently being upgraded on the London to Birmingham and London to Aylesbury train routes.
The examination showed that with the improvement in accessing the internet, there was a rising tendency of extension of the working day with the use of laptops or mobile phones. 
This period was used as a time for transition by commuting parents where they changed orientation from being part of a family to belonging to a working environment.
There were a number of commuters who enjoyed the advantage of the buffer time to finish up or catch up with work while travelling.
"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 on the London to Birmingham route to the researchers.
But some fundamental questions about work life balance were raised by the findings of the study. The study asked whether it was healthy to extend the working day because people routinely are getting used to answering e-mails even after working hours.
The proposition of recognizing the time spent in extended work time during travelling as work time was also made in the study.
Smartphones and the easier access to the internet has resulted in a "blurring of boundaries" between work and home life and that has is now also being applied to the journey time to work, said researcher Dr Juliet Jain.
"How do we count that time? Do workplace cultures need to change?" she asked.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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