It’s arguable that due to the standard of today’s technology, we no longer need to work within an office environment in order to finish a profit and loss sheet. But are we really producing work of the same quality when tapping away at a netbook at thirty thousand feet, or are we sacrificing doing our jobs properly in order to complete a higher number of tasks and reduce downtime?
I find airplane travel to be an interesting experience. I love airports, for one; strolling around the duty free area, getting something to eat and drink for the plane, buying a magazine and enjoying the atmosphere (easy when everything is around 20 % cheaper). But I don’t feel compelled to work on the plane whether it’s a short trip or a long one, because it’s not a productive environment.
The seats usually aren’t comfortable – unless you’re in Business Class, a category whose name makes no sense whatsoever given that a business shouldn’t be forking out more for a flight than it has to. The noise is somewhat disruptive. Most of all, travelling is exhausting, and anyone with the desire to stay awake at a meeting after an eight-hour flight is going to use those eight hours to get an entire night’s worth of sleep.
I will sometimes work on the Tube – as a Londoner, our transport network is reliable, and you can work in relative peace as everyone is so fearfully antisocial when placed in a public environment. I’ve even written a MoreDigital blog post while sailing down the Piccadilly Line, but I find that it’s slightly more difficult when you can’t access the web to double-check your facts, or edit header images. So you can get your rough work done, and clean it up later.
Anyone expecting a neat finished product produced in such a stressful, disruptive atmosphere is kidding themselves. But you’ve got to do something with the time, and occasionally you’ll find that doing two hours of work while travelling (The Evening Standard indicates that a fifth of London commutes are over an hour long) means that you’ll be leaving at half five, instead of half seven.
Geekpreneur offers a few tips for working on the plane, most notably that you can’t work on any confidential projects, or that you probably shouldn’t be working, because no one would expect you to do so – not your boss, not your clients, not your staff. It’s simply unfair. If you want to do it, then go for it! Pass the time with a spreadsheet or a PowerPoint presentation. But don’t start in on that quarterly report because you feel that to snooze or read a novel would be to waste people’s time.
Do any of you work on the commute? I’d love to hear about people’s various attitudes to getting their projects closer to completion whilst being jostled around on the bus or making a major medical breakthrough while on the 5:29 to Bristol. So chip in, and share your thoughts.