The New York City subway is a terrible place for productivity. During the morning commute, the crowds force many people to stand, one hand occupied by a pole for balance, so getting any real work done is often impossible. Riders can use their phones to browse their inboxes or draft a couple emails, but internet access in the city’s tunnels is spotty. When you look around, people mostly are reading books, scrolling their music libraries, playing colorful phone games, or just staring into space, disconnected.
It’s a common existential crisis among American office workers that there’s now virtually nowhere safe from the pull of their jobs. This inescapability is usually attributed to the proliferation of smartphones, with their push notifications signaling the arrival of emails and other workplace messages. The first iPhone, released in 2007, helped make social media omnipresent and pave the way for hyper-connected professional lives. Now, on-call retail workers and law-firm partners alike often feel as though they never really clock out.