Laptops investigate

Do modern gadgets make working on holiday unavoidable?

Mobile technology is making more and more people feel they have a duty to check in with the office, even though they're on vacation.

Smartphones and laptops are not only driving people to work longer hours but also encouraging them to take their job on holiday.

One third of people surveyed by BT said they were planning to check their work emails and voicemails while on vacation. These workers say they check in while on holiday because they feel a responsibility to do so and worry about missing important information.

Men find it more difficult to switch off from work, with 37 per cent checking office emails compared with 28 per cent of women.

This inability to leave the job behind creates friction with family members, the survey found, with one quarter of those who check work communication admitting to doing so surreptitiously to avoid causing tension.

Psychologist Corinne Sweet said: "If you can't stop yourself logging on or texting and it's affecting your personal relationships, then you need to think twice. Holidays should give you a chance to turn off and become aware of your behaviour.

"Try to spend a day offline and more time just hanging out with family and friends, or simply being alone. Holidays should be about recharging your own batteries, not just those of your laptop or smartphone."

Two in five, 41 per cent, of Brits also admit to logging onto social networking sites when holidaying with friends and family.

About

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

30 comments
Snak
Snak

On the premise that you can take nothing with you when you go, the only thing you can ever actually own, is the amount of time you have on the planet. As we go through life we sell portions of time (hopefully to the highest bidder) but every minute worked for someone else, comes off your alloted span. To be true to yourself, you should sell as little as possible, for as much as possible. Simple as.

sysop-dr
sysop-dr

If you are caught letting or making your employees work beyond the set work hours, which would be 40 regular hours per week plus 8 hours overtime per week (can be 5 days at 8 hours or 4 days at 10 hours), the fine for a company is pretty hefty. (Except Engineers and seasonal labour, and farm workers, medical, emergencies etc. and by engineer I mean professional engineers who have passed the engineer society test and wear the engineer ring. No just being called a software engineer does not make you an Engineer. Are you a me,ber of the society of professional engineers? Not, not an engineer.) That is the law in Canada for federally regulated industries so if your employer says you have to work but you have already done 48 hours remind them of the labour code. (Anything over 40 per week must be at least time and a half, by law. "free time" donated or volunteered is just illegal, the labour code stipulates that time worked is time paid and that all overtime, that is time spent doing any work beyond 40 a week must be paid at at least time and a half. I doubt your boss wants to pay fines of 10 times that instead of paying the overtime. And there are jail terms for real bad bosses or trying to cover up the over time, it just gets to be fraud at that point and if they know this they won't allow you to do unpaid work.) Federal holidays worked are overtime, any call in (or if you are paged for something to fix remotely) is an automatic pay of 4 hours even if it just takes a minute and it counts against your total for the week. So call me after I already worked a full day and ask me to reset the server is overtime for 4 hours and do it 2 days in a row and you may as well let me have Friday off because it's suddenly overtime. If you have booked paid vacation and you get a call in or pager or whatever it is automatically 4 hours of overtime. Also You have to have 1 24 hour period where you do not book any hours or do any work for your employer; by law. taking something home to work on counts as work done even if you don't get paid, it is legally hours worked and if it takes you beyond 48 for the week then your employer could be held liable and fined. if you are in a shop where someone might resent you doing the "free" work and are preasured to do the same as you could report you and the employer and then it just gets bad all around. Your employer should be telling you not to work the free hours because the fines are more than the time spent is worth. They should just hire more staff it is cheaper than the fines. Consultants and self employed also have limits but they are higher and who is going to report you, yourself? Well how about disgruntled employees, ex employees and competitors. (or your wife if she gets vindictive and wants to really mess you up.) It is in your employers best interests to pay you for hours worked and properly account for those hours. Not doing it and telling you to work for free or not charge hours worked or coverup hours worked past the weekly limits is not in their interest and if they still insist on it report them, reports can be anonymous, and we have whistle blowing laws so employers can not afford to try to go beyond the law. (Applies if you are union or not, full time or part time, temp or perm staff. get to know the labour laws in your country, In Canada go to the federal government web site http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/labour/overviews/employment_standards/hours.shtml Hope this helps.

jirving
jirving

I just came back from a real vacation in the Adirondacks. No Internet at the camp, and just one measly cell bar at the end of the dock. My coworker heads for the high Sierras. What's your fave getaway?

Snak
Snak

My employer insists I take my full breaks, lunchtimes and vacations. They are happy that my work cellphone ('mobile phone' here in the UK) is left at work and they would only ever use my home phone in an emergency. In 17 years they have never done so.

cory.schultze
cory.schultze

One feature that remains present on all devices is the off button. Even better, switch yourself off - leave your work at the door, because a vacation is supposed to be your escape from all the stresses and strains of daily life. If you really feel you can't because it's so important, you have to ask yourself if the business will survive without your input for a week or two. If you're worried that your career prospects will be affected, then the company you're working for obviously have no respect for their employees or their own jurisdiction - after all, you *are* entitled to vacation.

kraabeasa
kraabeasa

Workers who allow their bosses to browbeat them into ruining their vacations do not have enough respect for their families.

dogknees
dogknees

If they were prepared to refund my expenses relating to the device, I would be prepared to use "my" device and "my" bandwidth and storage in "my" time for their benefit.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

individual to maintain their personal time. Many years back (before the days of cell phones) I worked with a great guy in a company that pushed corporate loyalty and work odd hours. He was our top level tech support of unusual problems with various brands of mainframe equipment (the company's main income from third party mainframe maintenance) and he had three very endearing traits: 1. He would go to any company booze up held during work hours, come knock off time he'd loudly exclaim, "Damn, I'm drinking on my time," then wave goodbye to all as he went home to his family. 2. He'd leave for lunch thirty minutes early when he had an appointment for a haircut. His reasoning was the company can spare some time for it as it grows on company time and they want him to look neat. 3. Some how he rigged up his pager so when someone paged him when he was NOT the night or weekend duty guy it would divert to a recorded message giving the company out of hours phone number with a suggest they call the relevant duty tech. The staff and clients who had his pager number soon learned to only call that number when he was the rostered duty tech. If he was needed to come in on overtime the division head (ie the one who could approve the overtime) rang his home phone which was NOT known by anyone else. My best trick on this was to put in overtime claims every time my manager called me up out of hours. After a couple of interviews with his boss about overtime budgets his calls tapered off. If more people did this sort of stuff, we would see the companies pushing to extend hours back off.

Rob Kuhn
Rob Kuhn

I've been in IT for over 20 years and have been in some sort of support role whether it be on-call or just overseeing the call center. Technology making it possible for people to be connected 24/7 does make avoiding work nearly impossible. Having said that, just because I am connected 24/7 doesn't mean I'm working . It just makes me more accessible and in communication with my employer. Unless I'm working on something after hours, my personal time is my time. My employer is comforted in knowing that chances are high that I am online and available if needed. BTW - I use to rock a pager (even the ones that didn't sport a display) for the longest time. People thought I was a doctor. :)

opcom
opcom

"Well, sir/ma'am: Because I'm not Mary and my faith does not allow me to do so. It is spiritually unclean, but don't worry, I won't say any such thing to Mary, she has a right to her beliefs too. I am sure you as an employer would never want to discriminate on the basis of religion and cause an employee to fear losing a job or promotion because of their faith. In fact I am looking forward to earning my next promotion."

rjm56
rjm56

Work is work, play is play. You need time for both and enough studies have shown the better employees have enough play time (any type of non-work). I was on vacation for 14 days and WAS on vacation for 14 work days. The world did not end. I always have been able to manage it.

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

but current "corporate philosophy" that forces many workers to give up holidays, weekends, vacations, etc. "You want a lunch break? Well, Joe down the hall is working on his project through lunch...aren't you as dedicated to your job as Joe? Mary is 'volunteering' to work this holiday weekend, so why do want 3 days off?" The fear of losing your job or promotions can be a club used over our heads!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

where the idiots keep driving around until they find a location where their phones no longer get service, instead of just turning the damn things off. Apparent message: only idiots drive Chevy trucks.

cmwade1977
cmwade1977

Most people these days work on Salary in the professional world (at least in my field), which means that simply logging the extra hours doesn't do anything. That being said, when I go on vacation, yes I will check my email, but usually from my phone while using the restroom or some such thing. The only reason for this is so I don't have tons of emails to deal with when I get back. I will also get the odd call or two, but only when it's something that no one else seems to be able to solve. Of course, I also minimize the interruptions by taking vacations when the office is closed anyway, such as the week between Christmas and New Years. Another great way to avoid the office on vacation is to take a cruise, it is almost impossible to get ahold of you that way, except by text message.

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

I avoided those things for over a decade. My spouse thought I just had to have one and bought one, seems like that was around 2000 or 2001... much like my current cellphone/PDA, I would "accidentally" leave it laying at home when I wanted to have a little time to myself!! Those darn pagers seemed to always have a habit of beeping at the absolute WORST times. ;)

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

"Your position has been 'out-sourced' to India, but I hear that the IT shop there has a similar faith to yours! Would you like a transfer request?" Yes, there are places that give you time off...but too many others have this unseen force that they wield, at all times, that says if you are not giving 110 percent then maybe you don't want this job. You won't read it on a company memo, it's not in the HR guidelines, it's not in the employee handbook, but you can bet that it's there. Not just in IT either!

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Who was in the truck? Jim Carrey & Jeff Daniels?

SKDTech
SKDTech

Salary does not equal no overtime entitlement. As I understand it, unless you are management, as defined by the law not your employer, you are still entitled to overtime rates for hours worked beyond forty. IIRC several companies have been successfully sued by their employees recently over the issue of salary and overtime. If you think your employer may be trying to avoid OT pay by putting employees on salary then you need to take a copy of your job description and consult a labor lawyer.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

tell if you were salaried management if you worked in a company. You had an office big enough for two or more people all your own, a secretary / clerk outside, usually a company car, a very nice pay rate, and no set office hours so you turned up when you felt like it as you just had to get the job done. What's gone wrong is many people whose working conditions and pay rate scream employee are now being told they're salaried staff and not allowed to work overtime. One place I worked we had a change of ownership and the new top brass decided that since I had four people working for me that my position was a salaried management position and not entitled to overtime. I had a meeting with my people, we rearranged their work hours a bit to have some start early and finish early and the others start late and finish late, while I only came in and worked a six hour day as that's all I needed to get the work done most days, some were even a four hours day. When one of the top brass bitched about my short days, I simply said, "You get to call me in at short notice for emergencies at night and on weekends without overtime as you say I'm salaried. So I work short days to balance that out." Since my unit was the only one that always had everything done on time or ahead of time, he had no grounds to complain. I didn't bitch too much about the out of hours work since I lived only five minutes walk away; but I did enjoy the extra time at home.

mckinnej
mckinnej

those things have this amazing little feature called the "OFF" mode". You flip this little switch and they stopped making all that noise. This cool feature has been carried over to desktop PCs, laptops, and even mobile devices. It's definitely one of the "killer apps". I recommend liberal use. :D

kraabeasa
kraabeasa

...doesn't mean you have to answer it.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, if you are not performing duties that qualify you for exempt status, your employer needs to pay you overtime for anything worked past 40 hours.

SKDTech
SKDTech

I am no expert on Labor law even in the US, much less overseas, so anything I say should be taken with a grain of salt and lawyers should be consulted before making too big of a stink. OTOH, I do know that some companies in the US have tried to put employees on salary in order to try and bypass salary rewuirements. That is why there are clauses that state what types of positions are entitled to OT pay regardless of whether they are salary or hourly wage.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

US and Australian laws probably differ on salaried overtime.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

When my work phone receives a text page, I'll glance at it. If it pagews out a second time, I'll go ahead and log in to the CMS and take the call to quiet the paging system. But that's more a favor to my partner (who does the same for me).

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

but your case of being in the military is a bit different to normal civilian employment.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

You probably ought to, particularly if your continued employment and freedom depend on your doing so. The USAF had me carrying a pager for a couple of years. More than once, I wanted to ignore the darn thing (nothing worse than beepus interruptus), but I also had no desire to be the defendant at a court martial.

spdragoo
spdragoo

For some reason, non-family members don't seem to understand the notion that, just because I'm home, doesn't mean I have to answer the phone. If I'm busy doing something else, & it's that important of a call, all they have to do is [b]leave a message on the answering machine[/b]. If [b]I[/b] think it's important to immediately call them back, then I will; if it's semi-important, I'll call them [b]later[/b]; & if it's not important at all & calling back would be a waste of time, the delete button works just fine.