Monday, July 9, 2012

The connectivity dilemma

Two recent data points are sobering if you're an American worker.

The first is a July 2 article on which confirmed one thing we know--U.S. citizens work a lot and are always connected.  A study by Good Technology logged the number of phone calls, e-mails and business texts you log in "after hours"--the number is 365 hours worth of "overtime."  Most of the 1,000 participants indicated that they do this "after hours" checking from the dinner table, while on vacation, and, yes, while in bed.

The Good Technology study also found that the average American starts checking e-mail at 7:09 a.m. and that 69% of us won't go to sleep without checking work e-mail.  The widespread adoption of smartphones is cited as a key culprit in ensuring that we're always connected.

The other piece of data from Inc. magazine, which again likely isn't a surprise, is the amount of time Americans take for vacation compared to their brethren in Europe and elsewhere.  U.S. workers take, on average, 12 vacation days a year which radically trails the 30 taken in Brazil or the 28 in Germany.  In the United Kingdom, workers take an average of 25 days per year while those in Norway take 21 and in India, 20.  Who trails the U.S.?  Only Japan lags us--workers there take an average of five vacation days per year.

In the U.S., the average number of vacation days which go unused each year is two.  What are the reasons for not taking all vacation days?  The most common reason cited is "I can't afford a vacation," followed by:
- "Work is my life."
- "I have trouble scheduling far enough in advance."
- "I can get paid for my unused vacation days."
- "Taking time off may be perceived negatively at work."

This depressing, yet not unexpected, information makes me wonder if we aren't setting ourselves up for a labor issue in this country as workers burn out from never being able to disconnect from work.  It's enough to make me want to take a vacation!

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