Research has found that business people in the UK prefer working in their cars instead of noisy and cramped trains, planes and airports.

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.

The researchers said: “An initial observation is that with the exception of time spent on board planes, where significant restrictions on technology use operate, business travellers worked extensively when travelling.

“However, while business travellers have the potential to work while undertaking business trips, this does not mean that they either want to or are able to work.

“Overall, this data highlights significant variations between journey stages in terms of the extent to which the factors examined inhibited people’s ability to work. They highlight that the two journey stages during which business travellers were most likely to work extensively were when in train carriages and sitting in their cars in service station car parks.”

Work, employment and society is published by the British Sociological Association and SAGE.