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Summary:

A handful of new surveys reveal many Americans are planning to work through the holidays, increasing both their vacation starvation and the risk of burnout. The dreary economy can’t help, but are new ways of working, including remote teams and constant connectivity, partly to blame?

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It’s the holiday season, so obviously Americans are taking it easy at the office in favor of shopping, spending time with family and friends and generally getting into the festive seasonal vibe. Or not, according to a recent survey, which finds we’re actually taking scant time to recharge at the holidays.

Flexible office space company Regus asked 12,000 workers in 85 countries about their intentions to work during the end-of-year holidays and found a few of the year’s biggest occasions aren’t enough to keep Americans away from the office (or their smartphones). The company found:

  • 64 percent of U.S. business people will work during the last week of the year.
  • 56 percent of those working during this time will travel into the office to do so.
  • Yet a hefty percentage of American respondents — 39 percent — believe workers will get very little done in this work time.

These numbers come on top of an another poll from RingCentral showing 70.4 percent of U.S. business owners, executives and independent pros surveyed expect to work more this holiday season than last year. Only 14 percent plan to take a real vacation, meaning a complete break from work, including work-related emails or phone calls. Filling in this dismal picture of vacation starvation is the annual doom and gloom from Mercer’s 2011 Worldwide Benefit & Employment Guidelines, which shocked exactly no one by showing workers in the U.S. have among the least generous statutory employee holiday entitlements (entitlements they don’t even take full advantage of).

What does this have to do with connectivity and the future of work? Simple: Constant connectivity and eroding work-life boundaries may be making it even more difficult for vacation-starved Americans (and even those in more vacation-friendly countries) to really get away. Just take the tiny percentage of workers RingCentral revealed will be taking a real vacation by severing their connection to work entirely as exhibit A. Add to these difficulties the seemingly endless pressure of a dire economic climate and the vacation complications caused by our increasingly international teams, which creates the need to decide which holidays, if any, remote employees are entitled to and you have a recipe for increasing levels of holiday deprivation-induced burnout.

Do you get the sense that our Americans vacation starvation is getting worse due to larger workforce trends?

Image courtesy of Flickr user Ed Yourdon.

  1. I definitely find this to be true, yes, flexibility is awesome, but you can never turn it “off” completely.

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  2. I have been working 100% remote for the past 3 years, and on and off for the 10 years before that. You must have the discipline to draw a line between work hours and life hours. That is what a remote worker can control. The management side is beyond a worker’s control, and if the mothership doesn’t respect boundaries then yeah, kiss your holidays and weekends goodbye.

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