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Work during vacation? Half of Americans do.

More than half of US employees say they take business calls or check their work e-mails while on vacation. The convenience of laptops and mobile devices make vacation-time work easier than ever, but researchers say there is such a thing as too much work.

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Tourists flocked to the beach in southern Spain last month. More than half of US employees say they regularly check their e-mails and make business calls while they are on vacation.

Jon Nazca/Reuters/File

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Unplug from your job? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Whether aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean or a Jeep in the Sahara, more than half of American employees regularly check in on work while vacationing, according to a new study conducted by Pertino, a cloud networking software company.

Technology advances have enabled employees to go far beyond texting and e-mailing their colleagues on the go and actually work on documents. The catch: It is becoming harder for people to drop their work in their downtime.

“The Information Age has enabled unprecedented levels of employee productivity from the corner office to the factory floor, but it has also created a dependency on the applications, files, and data that employees depend on every day to get their job done. This can actually lead to anxiety when an employee is disconnected for a protracted period of time,” says Todd Krautkremer, vice president of marketing at Pertino, based in Los Gatos, Calif.

Some 64 percent of men say they work on vacation; 57 percent of women say the same, according to the Pertino study.

The desire to ward off work-related anxiety has led many employees to take their laptops, smart phones, and tablets on the road with them – even to places that do not even come close to resembling an air-conditioned cubicle.

For instance, 36 percent of the employees surveyed say they have worked while basking in the sun on the beach. More unconventionally, 31 percent of US employees say they have worked from bathroom stalls, according to the study.

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“If you have ability to be connected to your work at any time on any device, it does change the way you work and you vacation,” Mr. Krautkremer says. “Before, we would never have stood in lines at airports and pulled files beyond a firewall to take a quick look at them.”

Keeping a ready eye on every tweet and alert while ostensibly enjoying time off from work, however, can strain relationships or lead to burnout. Workaholics tend to have less time to spend with their families, lower satisfaction within their marriages, and even reduced health, researchers from the University of West Florida concluded in a 2008 study.

Although employees may assume that working around the clock will at least boost their job performance, some studies suggest that people who constantly work are actually less satisfied with their careers, the researchers said.

It is also possible that workaholics are less likely to enjoy the time they do have to relax, the researchers said, since most workaholics “spend the majority of their waking hours involved in work-related activities and thoughts.”

Acknowledging that it is easy to get lost inside a “workaholic world,” Krautkremer says designating time for both work and nonwork activities is crucial. Krautkremer, for instance, says he does much of his work early in the morning – then “systematically unplugs” for the rest of the day.

“It’s all about setting whatever rhythm works for you,” he says.


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