While Americans may pay lip service to the European approach to work-life balance, it is likely that many won't be able to disconnect themselves from the office over Labor Day Weekend.
A survey conducted earlier this year by Harris Interactive found that 61% of Americans planned to work during their summer vacations, up from 52% in 2012. And more recent findings released by PGi, a global virtual meeting provider, found that of more than 500 customers polled, 82 percent choose to check in with the office at least once a day while away.
"We had noticed that our technologies are regularly being used by folks out of the office when they are on vacation," said Sean O'Brien, executive vice president of strategy and communications at PGi. "We've also been interested in this convergence of work life and home life, where employers feel more comfortable contacting employees in the evenings or on weekends. Our technology is in the middle of this trend, so we wanted to explore it through a data-centric lab."
The problem with this trend, experts say, is that employees are more likely to be productive and engaged after allowing their batteries to recharge and fully disconnect. Not taking a vacation can lead to stress and burnout.
"Taking a one- or two-week vacation is actually good for business and the U.S. economy because it allows the individual to recharge, revitalize and come back to the workforce refreshed and more creative and ready to work," William Chalmers, an author and founder of The Global Scavenger Hunt, said in an interview with Alternet.
To help those who have trouble disconnecting from the office manage their Labor Day Weekend plans, O'Brien offered three rules of thumb.
"Set clear boundaries for when you will connect," said O'Brien, who wakes up an hour before his family does to take care of work e-mails on vacation. "Determine how you are going to connect and make sure that you are not using poor technology. And manage people's expectations. Let them know you are out and that you will have limited availability but that you won't be your usual responsive self."