- Over 66% of Americans polled by INSIDER check their work email at least “sometimes” while on vacation.
- 21% of respondents said they “always” monitor their work email on vacation.
- But studies have found that working on vacation is detrimental to general health and relationships.
- Be honest: Have you ever worked while on vacay?
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Vacation season has begun, and the time has come to remind all travellers and staycationers to stop working for their own good.
A recent INSIDER poll conducted on SurveyMonkey Audience found that two-thirds of Americans check their work email at least “sometimes” while on vacation.
In the December 2018 poll, INSIDER found that 21% of respondents said they “always” monitor their work email on vacation. Another 23% “usually” check it, and 22% “sometimes” log in.
Even the expectation of opening work email after hours can be destructive
William J. Becker, Associate Professor of Management at Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business, has led several studies on the impact of monitoring work email outside of the office, and found that staying plugged in has a negative effect.
Becker’s most recent study found that checking work email off hours not only lowers your general health, but also negatively impacts relationships with significant others and spouses.
“We would expect the same thing on vacation, where you’re on vacation but you’re still monitoring email and not really engaging with family and friends,” Becker told INSIDER.
Vacations might even be more meaningless for email-checkers
A 2016 HomeAway study led by Art Markman, a psychology researcher at the University of Texas, concluded that working while on vacation decreases your ability to remember parts of the trip.
“After you’ve had an experience, all you have left of it is your memories of it,” Markman told INSIDER. “In a very real sense, you’ve had less of a vacation afterwards if you’ve spent time working on it.”
Becker blames the constructs of modern work culture – technology often makes it impossible to fully turn off. “Whether it’s formal or informal, many organisations have this expectation that people will be available after hours,” Becker said. “Even when there isn’t a formal requirement, if everyone else is doing it, it becomes a norm.”
Regardless of age, race, or gender, INSIDER found that the habit of checking work email on vacation was a problem for everyone.
Employers could play a big part in the solution
For both Becker and Markman, the solution lies with employers. Company leaders need to implement and enforce policies that don’t put pressure on employees to stay online.
“Make sure that you’re not getting any notifications. Deactivate whatever app you use to check your email,” Markman advised.
“You will be more resilient and more effective if you take time away from work.”
SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn’t try to weight its sample based on race or income. Total 1,176 respondents collected December 28 to December 29, 2018, a margin of error plus or minus 3.04 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.
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