Should working during commute count as office hours?

People who are regularly using their journeys to "catch up" with work should have their commute counted as time at the office, according to new research.

A project by the University of the West of England in Bristol quizzed 5,000 train passengers to see how they used free Wi-Fi and mobile data.

Their team analysed the use of free Wi-Fi on Chiltern Railways' services between London and Birmingham, and London and Aylesbury.

The researchers found that many train travellers expressed how they consider their commute as time to catch up with work, before or after their traditional working day.

If travel time were to count as work time, there would be many social and economic impacts. Credit: PA

The study also revealed that travel time enables people to switch roles, for example from being a parent getting children ready for school in the morning to a business director during the day.

Dr Juliet Jain, a senior research fellow, said: "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."

The researchers said for commuters to be able to work during travel, trains would also have to offer a good working environment including tables, power sockets, space and good continuous connectivity for internet and phone calls.

The findings were presented on Thursday at the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) annual international conference.