Study: Workers stay linked to email on holiday

Thanks to technology, summer vacations are no longer the stuff of beach, boating and fun in the sun, according to a new study.

Thanks to technology, summer vacations are no longer the stuff of beach, boating and fun in the sun, according to a new study released last Friday.

Gone are the days of disappearing on a holiday from work and other pressures of modern day life. In fact, a study commissioned by Andersen Consulting suggests that about 83 percent of American workers stay in touch with the office via voice mail, email, cellular phone or pager during vacation this summer in the US.

"I think it suggests that the idea of vacation being something separate from work no longer exists," says Tom Davenport, director of Andersen Consulting's Institute for Strategic Change, a business research center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"Over the long run, you have to question if this is good for mankind. I am guilty of the same behaviors myself, and I wonder how long this can go on."

The 306 survey participants from 43 US states and the District of Columbia, who work full-time and earn more than US$75,000 annually, say they are taking mobile phones and laptops with them and are checking voice mail while on vacation.

According to survey participants, 56 percent of them take a cellular phone on vacation, 16 percent take a laptop and 13 percent take a pager.

Of those who take a laptop on vacation with them, 61 percent also check their email, and 83 percent of those who scan mail respond to messages. Those who avoid email during vacation return to an average of 37 email messages for one week of vacation. Additionally, some 16 percent of those who do not check email come back to 50 email messages for each week gone from work.

One in three respondents say they check their voice mail while on vacation, making it the most common mode for staying wired to the office. About 54 percent check their voice mail for messages once a day while on vacation. Of those who check once a day, about 62 percent respond to the voice mail.

There is a gender difference in voicemail usage. Forty percent of men, compared to 27 percent of women, check voice mail. The study, however, found that women -- 79 percent -- respond to voice mail more than men, at 50 percent. Nearly two hours are needed to respond to the voice-mail messages.

Those who skip checking phone mail come back to about 11 messages, on average, and it takes them more than two hours to return the calls once they return to work.

The study concludes, however, that most of the survey participants -- 90 percent -- accept they have to stay in touch with the office. Only 10 percent say they resent having to stay in touch with the office.

Andersen Consulting hired Bowen Marketing Consultants of Concord, Massachusetts to conduct the phone survey.

Andersen Consulting, in Chicago, can be contacted at +1-312-693-7768 or at http://www.ac.com/.

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