working vacations

It seems as if "working vacations" have become normal. A new survey from Harris Interactive shows that, with mobile technology making it possible to work anywhere, bosses are taking you up on the possibility. Fifty-four percent of surveyed employees say their bosses expect them to work during vacations. 

The survey, commissioned by Ricoh Americas Corporation, queried 2071 adults in the U.S. this spring. Fifty-one percent of working Americans who take vacations said they’d rather get a root canal than work during their vacation, which means that at least the small overlap with those who do vacation and work are enjoying it as much as a painful trip to the dentist.

The Email Boundary

Email appears to be a boundary line, when workers’ vacations cross over into their family members’ time off. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said their family gets upset when they check email during their alleged time-off, but 64% of workers said checking email “eases the return to work.” As in not having to deal with two thousand emails on the first day back.

One can imagine many other scenes of consternation from fellow vacationers. If a vacationing worker decides to revise a document while away, the boss is often not cooperating. Only 24% say their companies make it easy to access work-related documents remotely, a figure that either damns bosses for being so backward or praises them for restricting the means to violate vacation time.

Smartphone Vacations

According to the Harris Survey, 44% of U.S. workers can access their email from a device other than their work computer, such as a smartphone, and 30% of those who have a smartphone use it for work-related activity while on vacation. Overall, the survey found that younger workers, and those in the Northeast U.S. for some reason, are more likely to use their smartphones for work while vacationing.

Once upon a time, working from your vacation spot meant you had to overcome the high hurdle of access to information and communication. Making phone calls from the one pay phone three sand dunes away, for instance, posed a natural obstacle preventing even the most workaholic employee from getting much done. Portable typewriters were an option, but the sound of those keys interrupting the sound of the surf would likely enrage neighbors as well as family members.

But now one can write an entire quarterly report on a laptop while sitting next to a sleeping relative, and the only noise would be the slurping of coffee. It also doesn’t make things better for information-junkies that many hotels offer high-speed Wi-Fi.

Photo courtesy of AZP Worldwide (Shutterstock)