Remote work has been touted as the ideal model to achieve a work-life balance.
However, professionals are increasingly finding themselves checking work emails and Slack messages — even when on vacation.
“I caught a little flack for working on my vacation,” said Stephanie Sanders, a salesperson who blocked out two hours during a vacation to the Outer Banks to do just that.
Despite her boss encouraging her to take the full time off, Sanders says “it made getting back into the groove much more manageable and less daunting.”
Despite the push of leaders, workers are finding themselves dabbling in work-related responsibilities while on vacation. In fact, a Qualtrics report shows that around half of American employees work around one hour per day on a trip.
But why? The answer could lie in the increased accessibility of the workplace. For many knowledge workers, their work desk requires a laptop and reliable Wi-Fi connection.
Even for Sanders, who has access to unlimited vacation days, the feeling of falling behind at work triumphs over the desire to be immersed in a trip.
“Maybe if I felt like it was one of those precious 20 or so days a year off I got [without unlimited vacation], I’d be less inclined to work while on vacation,” said Sanders.
While this is great for flexibility, it could also mean truly unplugging could be a relic of the past.
According to the Qualtrics report, the top reason for employees working on vacation — or not taking any vacation — is the fear of falling behind.
Additionally, over 30% of respondents said they are still expected to answer calls or texts related to work while on vacation.
“In an era of worker burnout and high turnover, 58% of U.S. workers say their job is the main source of their mental health challenges,” the Qualtrics report states.