I am a master at working on vacation. Some claim that my life is a vacation, but it really isn’t. Those who know me realize that though I get to travel, enjoy great food and stay for extended time in foreign countries, I put in plenty of hours working at my computer, making phone calls, participating on conference calls and meeting via video conferencing.
I love mixing vacations with work
On a recent month-long visit to Venice, Italy, I had the opportunity to work full time while enjoying the delights of the city’s canals and narrow passageways. My secret? Taking advantage of technology and the differences in time zones. Most of my co-workers had no idea that I was working from across the Atlantic.
Anyone who wants to do this must rent an apartment with good Internet connections. My time was in Venice, but this experience could be replicated in Zermatt, Munich, Copenhagen or anywhere in Europe.
In Venice, I would get up early (around 7 a.m.) and go for a walk or ride on the vaporettos along the canals. At that hour tourists from the outside had not arrived and the city itself was still in a semi-sleep mode. I always planned to visit at least one church and sight in the morning hours. I would also do chores such as buying groceries, wine, bread and pastries.
I managed a short lunch and was back in my apartment by around 1 p.m. That was 7 a.m. on the East Coast. With Skype, I could make all the international phone calls I wanted to make for only pennies per minute and I could sit in on hour-long conference calls for only $1.20.
I managed to read several US newspapers and each day composed blog postings as well as articles for clients. I could follow legislation in Washington on the Web and even attend congressional hearings on the Internet.
In the evening, I excused myself, saying I had appointments, and wandered the nighttime canals and dances to the orchestras on St. Mark’s Square with American, French, German and Italian tourists. It was delightful. Dinner could be at home, or at a restaurant.
Friends who visited were on their own for the afternoons, but I was always around for morning walks, evening strolls and plenty of suggestions for next day adventures.
What about the rest of us?
I may have been extreme in my locations and length of time away, but others are carrying work with them on vacations. TeamViewer® fielded a study among over 2,000 American adults aged 18 and older, of which 1,094 are employed full time, part time and/or self-employed. It was conducted online by Harris Interactive in June. The survey, which was aimed at determining American attitudes and behavior toward working during their summer vacations, found that 61 percent of employed vacationers plan to work during that time, expecting to perform tasks that include:
• Reading work-related emails – 38 percent
• Wanting work-related access to a document on work/home computer – 32 percent
• Receiving work-related calls – 30 percent
• Receiving work-related text messages – 24 percent
• Being asked to do work by a boss, client or colleague – 20 percent
In a similar survey released last year by TeamViewer, the study found that 52 percent of employed Americans said they would work during their summer vacations.
Now, in 2013, employed Americans plan to be prepared. Almost 70 percent say they will bring a work-capable device with them on vacation, with 61 percent who plan to bring up to three such devices. In addition, 67 percent of vacationers say they actually expect to use a device for work-related purposes, with smartphone (40 percent) as the most popular device to use, followed by laptop (39 percent), desktop computer (24 percent) and a tablet (18 percent).
Some don’t like to be forced to work
Fully 83 percent agree that having to work during vacation is becoming more common in America, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy about it. In fact, 89 percent say they would react if they were asked to work during vacation by their boss, many in emotional or even sneaky ways, including:
• Do the work, but not happily – 34 percent
• Feel that my boss doesn’t respect my time – 29 percent
• Worry about the boundaries of my personal life – 24 percent
• I would say no – 22 percent
• Be happy to do the work – 14 percent
• I would turn off my devices and ignore it altogether – 13 percent
• I would pretend I didn’t see the incoming message, text, etc. – 11 percent
An extreme 6 percent said they would use the vacation to update their resume to look for a new job, followed by saying they might throw something (4 percent) cry (3 percent) or even quit their job (2 percent).
Interestingly, the study shows that the trend of mixing work into summer vacation is particularly acute among Generation Y, those currently aged 18-34, who are statistically more likely than any other age group to say they expect to work during their vacation (73 percent), expect to bring (82 percent) and then need to use (79 percent) a work-capable device.
The way I look at it, a partial day at work in an exotic location is still a partial vacation. And, the more memorable your destination, the more memorable your work may end up being.