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Getting away from the chaos at the office used to be as easy as stepping out for a cup of Joe. But with the advent of mobile phones, Internet cafés, pagers and personal digital assistants (PDAs), co-workers and bosses can track us down just as easily whether we're across the street or halfway around the globe. In fact, according to the latest survey conducted exclusively for American Demographics by New Brunswick, N.J.-based NFO Plog Research, the travel and leisure division of NFO WorldGroup, staying in touch with the office during a vacation is not only widely accepted, it's often expected.

Fully 69 percent of the 1,300 full-time working adults surveyed online in May by American Demographics and NFO say that while they would prefer to keep their contact with the office to a minimum when they're on vacation, they understand that circumstances may arise from time to time that require their attention. What's more, an additional 8 percent (almost 1 in 10) are more than understanding: they expect to communicate regularly with the office while they are away. Only 23 percent of workers say they are unwilling to be contacted by their employer during vacations.

But vacationing workers are not just kicking back and waiting for colleagues to find them. Nearly half of those surveyed (43 percent) say they take the initiative and check in with the office. Of those who do so, 59 percent check voice mail and 62 percent call for purposes other than checking messages. Half (46 percent) also say they check their e-mail while on vacation, though only 28 percent send e-mails or faxes during their time off.

A fat paycheck may increase one's vacation budget, but with a higher income also comes an increased sense of duty to the office. Fifty-nine percent of working Americans whose annual household income exceeds $85,000 say they check in with the office while on vacation, compared with 46 percent of those earning between $55,000 and $85,000, 41 percent of those earning between $35,000 and $55,000 and just 31 percent of workers with annual incomes of less than $35,000.

Young adults are also more likely to keep in touch. According to the survey, 55 percent of men and 45 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 43 say that they check in with the office during their vacation. But of those 44 and older, only 39 percent of men and 36 percent of women e-mail or phone the workplace while they're away.

“Young people climbing the corporate ladder have more of a need to be in constant communication with colleagues or their supervisors,� says John Antonello, president of NFO Plog Research. Still, he notes, while staying in touch with the office is more common among young people, workers of all ages are having trouble separating business from pleasure. “As advancements in technology increase, the ability to escape the office diminishes,� Antonello adds.

Sure, vacationers have the option to leave all their gadgets behind, but many Americans choose to bring them along. Indeed, two-thirds of working Americans (68 percent) take at least one type of electronic communication device with them on vacation. Sixty-three percent pack a mobile phone, the most common item, followed by a laptop (16 percent), a PDA (13 percent) and a pager (8 percent).

Women are slightly more likely than men to throw a cell phone in the bag before heading out on holiday (64 percent versus 61 percent), but men are far more likely to tether themselves to the office with a laptop (21 percent versus 13 percent) or a PDA (16 percent versus 10 percent). Pagers, with their unisex fashion appeal, are equally popular with both men and women. After all, a leash is a leash.


Vacationing workers who call the Northeast home are significantly more likely to check their office e-mail and voice mail while on holiday than residents of other parts of the country.


Check office e-mail 27% 16% 20% 19%
Check work voice mail 32% 27% 23% 23%
Send work-related e-mails or faxes 14% 10% 12% 13%
Make work-related phone calls other than to check messages 28% 24% 29% 26%
Source: American Demographics/NFO Plog Research


Americans with household incomes of $85,000 or more are the most likely of all income groups to be contacted by their office while on vacation. They are also the most likely to bug their colleagues when they take their own time off.


ALL <$35K $35K-$55K $55K-$85K $85K+
Received a phone call or page from work while on vacation 55% 42% 54% 57% 70%
Received an e-mail or fax from work while on vacation 27% 16% 24% 26% 43%
Sent an e-mail or fax to a colleague while on vacation 18% 11% 16% 18% 31%
Phoned or paged a colleague while they were on vacation 30% 24% 29% 30% 37%
Source: American Demographics/NFO Plog Research
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