UK workers can’t switch off

Two in five professionals planning a “workation” this summer

A new poll amongst 5000 of the nation’s professionals has revealed that two in five plan to work during their summer holiday this year, with activity levels going well beyond simply monitoring emails. Nearly a third will take phone calls and attend to tasks that they consider tantamount to ‘business as usual’.

According to the research, commissioned by global workspace provider Regus, over a third of holidaying professionals will put in between one and three hours each day for their job and one in ten will spend over 3 hours.

The results show that men are more prone to taking ‘workations’ than women, with 31% of professional men taking their usual workload on holiday compared to a lesser, but still significant quarter (25%) of professional women.

However, fewer Brits are having to work on holiday this year compared to last (44% compared to 47%), perhaps reflecting the improving economic outlook. This chimes with other research from Regus indicating that UK workers are more satisfied with their work-life balance than a year ago.

Steve Purdy, UK Managing Director at Regus
Working on holiday is usually portrayed in negative terms, as a symptom of our ‘always on’ culture and the pressure facing staff in the economic downturn. Certainly it can be a sign that workers are overstretched, stressed and insecure in their jobs. But workations are becoming part of life for the growing number of entrepreneurs and small business owners who simply cannot switch off - and may not want to.

In many ways, technology and the remote working revolution has freed them from the office and enabled them to holiday with their family without abandoning their business for weeks at a time. It is better to work some of the time than not to take holiday at all. The key is to impose rigid rules, such as limiting work to certain hours in the morning, perhaps using flexible workspace in the locality so that work is productive and doesn’t encroach on family time. Many people use our overseas centres for precisely this purpose.
Steve Purdy, UK Managing Director at Regus
Professor Thomas Cox CBE, Chair of Occupational Health Psychology and Management at Birkbeck University of London
It is documented that giving workers some control over their work and the way they do it can help reduce work stress. In particular by offering workers freedom to manage how and when they work can help them achieve a better work:life balance, ensuring that time devoted to family and relaxation is not riddled with work stress and activities. Being able to connect from any location is great, but workers really need to carve out time to switch off.
Professor Thomas Cox CBE, Chair of Occupational Health Psychology and Management at Birkbeck University of London

The main findings:

  • 35% of UK professionals plan to work one to three hours every day of their main summer holiday
  • A further 9% will work over 3 hours
  • Total proportion of professionals who plan to work on holiday = 44% (comparative figure from last year = 47%)
  • 29% of the above consider that their work on holiday will become tantamount to ‘business as usual’ (31% of men, 25% of women)