Current Students and Staff

// University News

25 Mar 2015

Business people prefer working in their cars instead of noisy and cramped trains, planes and airports, research shows

Image: iStock

Noisy and cramped conditions in trains, planes and airports are discouraging many commuters and business people from working while travelling, new research shows. 

Dr Donald Hislop, Reader in Sociology of Contemporary Work at Loughborough University, and Dr Carolyn Axtell, Senior Lecturer at the University of Sheffield’s Institute of Work Psychology, found that the most popular place to work was in vehicles in the car park of a motorway service station. 

In a paper in the journal Work, employment and society sociologist Dr Hislop and psychologist Dr Axtell say ‘significant variations’ in noise and lack of space ‘inhibited people’s ability to work’ on trains and planes. 

They analysed 681 completed survey forms handed out on intercity trains in the East Midlands, an M1 motorway survey station in the Midlands, and a regional airport in southern England. This was the first survey of how the working conditions of professionals travelling by car, plane and train affected their use of laptops, mobile phones and paper. 

The researchers found that 42% of respondents worked ‘quite a lot’ or a ‘great deal’ in trains; 29% did so at the airport; 13% on the planes; 44% in a motorway service station car park and 22% in a service station building.

Analysing the data they found: 

 • On the trains, 55% said they found lack of space as hindering them working, and 23% said noise hindered them 

 • At the airport, 47% said that noise hindered them working, and 39% said it was lack of space 

 • On board the planes, 71% said it was lack of space, and 16% noise 

• At the motorway service station building, 38% said it was noise, and 23% lack of space. 

Read the press release for more information.