Holidays no longer mean being out of the electronic loop



One in five bring their computers on holiday, a recent poll finds.


Sun block. Beach umbrella. Laptop. One in five people toted laptop computers on their most recent vacations, an AP-Ipsos poll released late last week said. Along with the 80 per cent who said they brought along their cellphones, the survey shows going on vacation no longer means being out of the electronic loop.


Sizable numbers are interrupting their unwinding time to check in at the office and, even more so, to keep up with the social buzz.

About one in five said they did some work while vacationing, and about the same number checked office messages or called in to see how things were going, the poll showed. Twice as many checked their e-mail, while 50 per cent kept up with other personal messages like voice mail.

The credit — or culprit, depending on one’s view — is in part today’s array of devices that can easily keep people digitally tethered to workplaces, friends and family. The electronic gear was most commonly brought along by younger people — one in four below age 40 brought laptops, compared to 15 per cent of those 50 to 64 and even less for older people.

Reasons vacationers performed work-related tasks include an expectation that they be available; a worry about missing important information; or in some cases the enjoyment of staying involved, according to analysts and some of those surveyed.

“I’m the final guy, so I make sure my customers are happy,” said Don Schneider, 43, a plumbing contractor who also runs an online business that supplies video equipment for plumbers.

Schneider says he limits his holiday check-ins to about a half-hour daily and tries to do it unobtrusively so he won’t annoy family and friends, making calls from his hotel room or car.

Nineteen per cent said they worked on their vacation even though they were technically off. Twenty per cent said they checked work messages like voice mail, and another 15 per cent said they called to check in.

Men — particularly white men — were the likeliest to have checked for messages or worked while on vacation. Higher educated and higher-earning people were also likelier to do work-related tasks, in part reflecting the demands of professional or managerial jobs.

People under age 40 were likeliest to check their personal e-mails, voice mails or other messages from vacation spots. But people checking for work-related messages tended to be a bit older, perhaps reflecting the greater work responsibilities that can come with age.

“Men in their late 40s and early 50s, middle managers, feel they can’t afford to miss something, and a vacation is secondary to them in terms of importance,” said Geoffrey Godbey, professor of leisure studies at Penn State University.