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What vacation? Will you be working during your vacation?

July 26, 2013

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

By George Brown

As you have sent out your emails in the past few weeks, chances are you have gotten a good number of  kickbacks stating, “I will be out of the office on vacation the week of . . . and will have limited ability to respond to email and voicemail.” A recent survey by TeamViewer® strongly suggests that “limited ability to respond” may have been their intention, but it probably was not the reality.

According to the findings of this online survey of more than 2,700 adults, 83 percent of respondents agreed that having to work during vacation is becoming more common in America. Sixty-one percent of employed vacationers say they will succumb to the trend and work.  

The findings, released July 17, were part of TeamViewer’s annual Work/Life Balance Index, which is aimed at determining American attitudes and behavior towards working during their summer vacations.

What tasks did the 61 percent — which is up from 52 percent last year — expect to manage during their vacations?

  • Reading work-related emails – 38 percent
  • Wanting work-related access to a document on their work or home computer – 32 percent
  • Receiving work-related calls – 30 percent
  • Receiving work-related text messages – 24 percent
  • Being asked to do work by a boss, client or colleague – 20 percent

Sixty-seven percent of the respondents claim they actually expect to use a device for work-related purposes, with the smart phone (40 percent) as the most popular device to use, followed by laptop (39 percent), desktop computer (24 percent) and a tablet (18 percent). Sixty percent expect to bring up to three work-capable devices with them on vacation.

It is interesting that among those surveyed, Millenial-aged respondents were the ones who most expected to work during their vacations (73 percent), who most expected to bring work-capable devices with them (82 percent) and most expected to need to use them (79 percent). Keep in mind that the preponderance of existing research on Millenial workers pegs them to be the least trusting of management and the most likely to view their employment as impermanent to begin with. From that, one might surmise that Millenials would be the most likely group to avoid doing work while on vacation. And yet the opposite seems to be true.

This may shed a new light on Millenial workers in some people’s minds, suggesting that Millenials cannot be typecast. Keep in mind that this generation aspires to use technology to do everything in the most effective manner possible. All future generations after them will do the same. There are more and more work-capable devices available, and they have them all. So work can impede their vacations to some extent but they can, and do, handle many business to-dos very efficiently.

The survey suggests that while people are willing to work during vacation, very few do it happily. And in fact many of them will resort to familiar dodges to avoid it. If asked to work during vacation by their boss, here are their responses:

  • Do the work, but not happily – 34 percent
  • Feel that my boss doesn’t respect my time – 29 percent
  • Worry about the boundaries of my personal life – 24 percent
  • Say No – 22 percent
  • Be happy to do the work – 14 percent
  • Turn off my devices and ignore it altogether – 13 percent
  • Pretend I didn’t see the incoming message, text, etc. – 11 percent
  • Use the vacation to update my resume to look for a new job – 6 percent
  • Maybe quit my job – two percent

As everyone knows, what separates the 21st-century workplace from the 20th-century workplace is today’s nearly complete absence of a clear line that separates being “at work” from being “not at work.” In that context, these survey findings are hardly surprising. And remember that 61 percent do job-related work during their vacations even while many more (83 percent) agree that that is today’s trend. It suggests that at least some vacationers are still resisting the practice. But the number appears to grow smaller by the year. 

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