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Majority of Americans will work remotely while on vacation: survey

Majority of Americans will work remotely while on vacation: survey

Posting in Technology

Are we so hyper-connected via the Web and mobile devices that work follows us wherever we go? Or are we just wannabe Technomadics?

In a new survey of 1,309 employed Americans, 52% said they will work during their summer vacation this year. This is up by 6 percentage points from a similar survey released last year by The Harris Poll/Adweek.

I know what I did last summer: Mackinac Island, MI - Internet access included.

Is thus the new normal? Has email become the great tether? Are we so hyper-connected via the Web and mobile devices that work follows us wherever we go? These findings were released by TeamViewer, which commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct the survey in May to gauge attitudes toward work and vacation.

Of respondents who are employed full time, part time and/or self employed, the survey showed that workers are expecting to perform a variety of tasks, including:

  • Reading work-related emails 30%
  • Receiving work-related phone calls 23%
  • Accessing documents on home computer 19%
  • Receiving work-related text messages 18%
  • Accessing documents on work computer 13%
  • Asked to do work by a boss, client or colleague 13%

TeamViewer presents these findings in light of it being a disturbing and negative trend. But is this all bad? Sometimes, it's not bad relaxing by the oceanfront, working on projects that may have taken a back seat over the past year. In a more relaxed setting, with fewer distractions, one's creativity flows easier. Some people get their brightest ideas while away from the hustle and bustle of the office. Some emails may call for decisions, which, again, maybe can be made in a more clear-headed way within a relaxed setting.

Again, is this a bad thing? I think back to a post a couple of years back made by my colleague Bill Ives, who provided a glimpse of his summer hours, 21st-century style, which is informal, yet highly productive. He also relays how his colleague Tom Davenport stays connected, even from the wild dunes of Cape Cod.

Call me a wannabe Technomadic. In one recent summer, during a trek northward to the wilderness of Upper Peninsula Michigan, Mackinac Island (pictured here), Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and, later in the summer, to the Green Mountain Inn in Vermont, I posted blogs, collaborated with colleagues, published research, and worked on applications, quite seamlessly, without anyone knowing where I was on any given day.

The Green Mountain Inn's claim to fame is that Lowell Thomas, the famed broadcaster, would conduct his shows from the inn during ski season. In other words, Lowell wanted to get away on ski vacations without leaving work, so he brought his work with him. Now with wireless access and broadband, every average Joe can broadcast from the inn.

Some might say it's a little obsessive to want to always stay connected; but I am my own boss, and therefore do not receive vacation pay. So I prefer to stay in touch with the world. But by spending a couple of hours a day online at a minimum, work flowed and clients were kept happy (I hope) and I still had a refreshing amount of downtime.

Technomadic is a term coined by Steve Roberts, who many years ago, set off on a cross-country trek on a bicycle outfitted with a satellite uplink, the latest communications technology and microprocessors of the time. Now, anyone can compute and collaborate,

(Photo by Joe McKendrick.)

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Joe McKendrick

Contributing Editor

Joe McKendrick is an independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. He is a co-author of the SOA Manifesto and has written for Forbes, ZDNet and Database Trends & Applications. He holds a degree from Temple University. He is based in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure