I just finished listning to the 3-part Working on an Airplane podcast, and must say I pretty strongly disagree with this podcast's message! Usually MT/CT has great stuff, but listening to this episode was frustrating enough I just had to sign up to the forum here to vent about it:
The main complaints:
1. The show hosts are extremly judgemental of anyone who's on an airpplane for a business trip, but isn't working. There are a number of legitimate reasons why someone may not be working on a flight:
- They may have just transferred from a long-haul international flight, been awake for 20+ hours and be extremely jet-lagged.
- They may experience motion sickness in flights and not be able to read/write whilst on planes.
- Their company may have a policy that you're not allowed to work on a flight, due to confidentiality concerns.
- Any of the dozenes of reasons given in the show for why wokring on an airplane is suboptimal may apply to them, and they may prefer to work in the evening at the hotel or at other times, rather than in the cramped conditions of an airplane seat that are unsuitable for most kinds of work.
It was pretty clear that the show hosts thought that anyone they see on a plane who's not working had "better be" retired or on vacation. Really a very inconsiderate way to be thinking about other people.
2. Mentioned in the list above, but to go into more detail on one in particular: I've had multiple employers who have had an explicit policy disallowing work on airplanes. The show says not to look at any confidential materials on the flight, but in many organizations, all buisnes data is consiered confidiential by default. This includes employee names, customer names, any projects you're working on, diagrams, software, unannounced products, etc. etc. For a lot of job roles, there's vanishingly little work you're expected to do that isn't considered confidential.
3. The show hosts seem to have the view that all employment entails a fixed number of hours as the baseline expectation for the job. They said if you have a 3-hour flight during business hours and you don't work on it, your obligation is to "make up" those 3 hours on your own time.
This is not how salaried employment works! In every job I've had, I've (thankfully) been evaluated on my overal output and effectiveness, not the number of hours I put in. Some weeks I work 30 hours, other weeks I work 50 hours, based on the business's needs at the time -- what matters is my / my team's deliverables for the business. Someone who works more efficiently and whose employer is satisfied with their performance doesn't have an obligation to work extra hours just because it's possible to do so. This kind of petty accounting is what creates a workforce that's more interested in keeping up appearances and "looking busy" rather than actually focusing on what's most valuable. Taking breaks and going in mentally refreshed to a series of meetings at head-office or at a conference may, for some people and in some circumstances, make their overall week more valuable for the company. If watching a movie on your flight rather than trying to cram your head with contact lists gets you in a better frame of mind to represent the company at the conference for the next few days, what on earth is wrong with that?
Did anyone else have impressions or feedback on this podcast? Agree or disagree with my comments here? Thanks, and happy travels!