Survey: ‘Hello, I’m Out Of The Office … But Checking Email’

Are vacations where people completely disconnect from the office a thing of the past? Research shows “workations” may be more common for professionals today. In a recent survey from staffing firm Accountemps, 54 per cent of workers said they typically check in with the office at least once or twice a week during their vacation, up from 41 per cent just one year ago.

On the bright side, those who do connect with the office do so fewer times during their break: 15 per cent of workers touch base at least once or twice a day, compared to 21 per cent in 2016. Their reasons for checking in include gaining peace of mind that things were under control (54 per cent), keeping projects moving along (53 per cent), avoiding coming back to extra work (47 per cent) and preventing colleagues from feeling undue stress (34 per cent).

“When possible, use your vacation time to its fullest potential by unplugging from the office,” said Michael Steinitz, executive director for Accountemps. “This helps you come back to work recharged and with fresh perspective.”

Steinitz noted it’s not always feasible for some employees to completely disconnect. “The reality is, many professionals, either by necessity or choice, will check in with the office to ensure things are under control and projects are moving forward in their absence,” he said. “Employees who feel the need to connect with work should set clear boundaries to minimize the time they spend attending to office duties.”

Additional findings from the survey:

  • Professionals plan to take an average of 10 vacation days this summer — unchanged from last year’s survey.
  • Thirty per cent of those surveyed said they plan to take more vacation days this summer compared to last year. Forty-one per cent of workers between the ages of 18 and 34 plan on taking more time off, compared to 25 per cent of workers ages 35 to 54 and only 16 per cent of respondents 55 and over.
  • Twelve per cent of respondents plan to take fewer days off than they did last summer. Only 10 per cent of male workers plan to take fewer days off, compared to 14 per cent of female workers.
  • More than one-third of professionals (37 per cent) said they could use more time to recharge. Forty-four per cent of females surveyed said they don’t have enough time off, versus 31 per cent of males.
  • Forty-seven per cent of total respondents said they don’t check in at all while on summer vacation. Sixty per cent of workers 55 and older don’t connect with the office during their break, compared to 52 per cent of respondents ages 35 to 54 and only 38 per cent of workers 18 to 34.

Here are four ways managers and professionals can unplug while on vacation:

  1. Promote the benefits of taking vacation.
    Managers should encourage their teams to disconnect during their time off to reap the full advantages of time away.
  1. Let colleagues know.
    Once your vacation request has been approved, give key contacts advanced notice about your time off. Wrap up projects and appoint a team member to handle your daily tasks in your absence. If you plan to truly disconnect, make it clear to your manager and team.
  1. Set boundaries. If you feel compelled to check in, set a schedule for the brief times you’ll be accessible and note it in your out-of-office reply. Try to avoid checking email outside of those hours so you can rest and recharge.
  1. Get back on track. Upon your return, schedule a quick meeting with your manager or team to get caught up on what you may have missed and what projects are a priority.

View a slideshow of the full survey results.

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Category: Professional Practice

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