Commuters who listen to music or browse social media might be increasing their chance of a stressful workday writes Dina Gerdeman in a recent article appearing in Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge. Research by Harvard’s Francesca Gino offers better ways to commute but warns, this may sound employer-friendly, at first: think about work and what you are going to accomplish that day. “Work on the way to work by mentally mapping out a plan for their day,” according to Gino.


By using the travel time as an opportunity to get into the work mindset, employees are giving themselves a chance to make an easier mental shift from their home role to their work role, and ultimately, this makes people feel happier about their jobs, according to the working paper Between Home and Work: Commuting as an Opportunity for Role Transitions (PDF).

But here is the real shocker that even surprised Professor Gino:

Doing relaxing or purely pleasurable things on the way to the office, like listening to music in the car or scrolling through social media on the train, may actually interfere with people’s ability to transition into work mode smoothly—which makes them feel gloomier about their jobs and more likely to quit

Commuters who made plans for their workday reported significantly higher levels of job satisfaction and reduced intentions of leaving their jobs than those who did something enjoyable in the moment.

For more information, see: Stuck in Commuter Hell? You Can Still Be Productive?, Working Knowledge, Harvard Business School.

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