On the bus into the big smoke the other morning I had to stand. It was one of those semi-decker buses where the back section is raised by a few steps, to allow for the wheels and the engine I guess. Anyway, I’m standing at the top of those steps, swaying to the rhythm of Sydney traffic. The silver lining is the view of the harbour as you go over the bridge, much better than sitting down. It was one of those glorious autumn days, blue sky, twinkling water, a couple of yachts, crisscrossing ferries and the blinding white of the Opera House sails. Stunning.

From my vantage point I could look back along the first half of the bus and over the shoulder of most people in that section. By far the majority were fiddling away with their smart phones, iPads and assorted tablet and e-readers; no surprise in that. And one, lone old-style book reader up the front near the driver. The gadget geeks were doing all sorts of things; reading e-books or the paper (is it still a “paper”?), browsing web sites, watching movies, doing email, playing games. The saying “the internet is only as big as your hand” was never more true – all those little screens winking their colourful lights.

There were two particularly interesting guys using iPads. One was viewing a KPI dashboard of some sort – no idea what it was about but it looked like work not play. Maybe the bus was his time to check up on operations, track the trends, spot the exceptions, and escalate the urgent. The other guy was working his way through a complex web form.  Again, no idea what it was about, but he was typing into fields and picking things from drop down lists. Maybe this was his time to do his timesheets and expenses, his admin processing.

Work time has bled into any time. Smart companies are enabling diligent and time-poor employees to be more productive in their own time, be it on the bus or on the loo.

If I had been sitting instead of standing I would have been reading a good old fashioned book.

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