Event

Working by Default: Transitory work non-place of business travel

  • Wed 25 Jan 23

    12:00 - 13:00

  • Online

    Details coming soon

  • Event speaker

    Professor Donald Hislop, Dr Michal Izak and Professor Stefanie Reissner

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Centre for Work, Organisation and Society (CWOS) Research Seminar Series

  • Event organiser

    Essex Business School

  • Contact details

    Dr Sophie Hales

Work is increasingly performed in a diverse range of spaces beyond the office: at home; on the move; or in ‘third places’ such as hotels, cafes etc. This can make it hard to distinguish between work time and nonwork time, workspaces and nonwork spaces as well as work objects and nonwork objects. This seminar is concerned with business travellers’ experiences of travelling for work, and making sense of how they make use of travel time, and deal with any demands to work, as they travel.

Seminar abstract

Work is increasingly performed in a diverse range of spaces beyond the office: at home; on the move; or in ‘third places’ such as hotels, cafes etc. This can make it hard to distinguish between work time and nonwork time, workspaces and nonwork spaces as well as work objects and nonwork objects (Reissner et al., 2021). This paper is concerned with business travellers’ experiences of travelling for work, and making sense of how they make use of travel time, and deal with any demands to work, as they travel.
In conceptualising the spaces that business travellers travel through, and make use of, we link together Shortt’s (2015) concept of ‘transitory dwelling places’, and Augé’s concept of non-places (1992). Shortt’s concept was developed in relation to liminal organisational spaces such as stairwells, that workers inhabit and utilise, intermittently, for their own purposes. The transitory and intermittent character of the way these spaces are utilised by workers have synergies with business travellers’ relationship with the spaces of business travel. Auge’s concept of non-places, defined as ‘transitory spaces devoid of relationality and denying us capacity to identify with them’, (1992, p. 77), also has resonance to business travel.

The data reported here is taken from a mixed methods study of business travellers in the UK. This paper utilises the interview data only, to provide rich insights into how travellers utilised travel time and dealt with the work-related demands they experienced. In total, 48 interviews were conducted, 19 with train passengers, 15 with airport travellers and 14 with car-based travellers. Initial data analysis identifies a number of themes regarding the way that business travellers dealt with the demands of work while they travelled. Broadly, whatever the travel context, workers generally made efforts to undertake work, unless they were very tired, or unless the travel context made it very difficult to work.
We propose that if Shortt’s ‘transitory dwelling places’ provide refuge from work, then what we call (transitory) ‘work non-places’, the spaces of business travel – airport lounges, train carriages, motorway service stations – provide spaces which, due to their character, and also the work-related demands business travellers experience, orientate them towards work. In developing our analysis, our paper makes a valuable theoretical and empirical contribution to understanding this important, and under-researched work context.

 

How to attend this seminar

This seminar will take place on Wednesday 30 November at 12pm

It is free to attend with no need to register in advance.

We welcome you to join us online.

 

Speakers

Professor Donald Hislop

Donald Hislop is Professor of the Sociology of Work and Technology at the University of Aberdeen.

A core part of Donald’s research interests is in how the development, implementation, and use of technology shapes people’s experiences of work. This has centred around the use of computer and communication technologies, and has examined people’s experiences of homeworking/teleworking, and mobile working/business travel.

Donald is a Editor of Work, Employment and Society, and is on the Editorial Board of Human Relations.

Dr Michal Izak

Michal Izak is Reader in Management at Roehampton Business School, University of Roehampton.

His research interests include flexible working discourses and their ideological underpinnings, and ethnographic and narrative approaches to organisational analysis.

He published his work in academic peer-reviewed outlets such as Human Relations, Organization Studies and Work, Employment and Society.

Professor Stefanie Reissner

Stefanie Reissner is Professor of Management and Organization Studies at Essex Business School. Stefanie’s research interests are identity, narrative / storytelling, and interpretive work / sensemaking in contemporary organizational contexts.

Her work has been published in major peer-reviewed academic journals, such as Work, Employment & Society, Public Administration, European Management Review, and International Journal of Human Resource Management.

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