Less Than a Quarter of Global Workers Disconnect From Work During Vacation

Americans most likely to leave their work gadgets at home
A woman on her cell phone at the airport

While a summer vacation is intended to be a time to relax and get away from day-to-day responsibilities, less than a quarter of travelers around the world actually leave their work devices home. Americans, however, are most likely to buck the trend.

Only 22% of the 3,000 workers surveyed by technology intelligence solutions provider Snow Software said they do not take employer-provided devices with them on vacation. The survey was administered globally to gain insight into vacation practices around the world.

Slightly more than a third — 34% — said they always take their work devices with them when they go on vacation; 27% said they bring their work gadgets most of the time, while 17% said they bring them along some of the time.

Among Americans, 36% of respondents said they always bring their work devices with them on vacation. Yet more than a quarter — 26% — do the opposite, saying they always leave their work equipment at home. In fact, Americans were more likely to leave their devices home than survey respondents from Europe and the Asia Pacific region.

Millennials least likely to go off grid

Age may play a role in whether an employee is likely to really disconnect while on vacation. The study compared millennial vacation habits with those of baby boomers and found millennials were less likely to go completely off the grid. A full 37% of millennials said they always bring their work devices on vacation, while only 24% of baby boomers admitted to doing the same. On the flip side, 33% of boomers said they always leave their devices home, while only 18% of millennials do.

The survey also suggests that the level of seniority an employee has may play a role in how likely that person is to leave their devices home. Half of vice presidents and nearly half (46%) of directors said they always carry their devices with them on vacation, perhaps because they play such important roles in their companies. However, next in line are interns; 44% of interns said they always have their work gadgets on hand when they travel.

While companies may benefit from having employees who are willing to stay connected during their off time, there is a risk. A work device can be lost or stolen, which could potentially lead to company data being compromised. Most survey respondents — 58% — said they had never lost an employer-issued device while on vacation, but among those who have, only 49% contacted their employer to let them know. Of those who did alert their employer, only 39% told them immediately. Another 24% didn’t report it until the next day, 19% told their employer within 48 hours and 1% waited until they went back to work.

Everybody needs time for rest and rejuvenation. Vacations can provide that while giving employees a chance to develop a fresh perspective on work challenges. However, many workers don’t use their vacation time at all. If you feel like your job would suffer if you took time off, staying connected via smartphone or answering a few emails while on vacation might make you feel more comfortable about taking a few days off from work. Thanks to technology, working remotely has become the “new normal,” opening up a new world of flexibility for employees.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

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