Jobs: Proper rest becoming thing of the past as professionals go on ‘workations’

SECRET sessions with the Blackberry are becoming more common for professionals from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire on holiday, according to new research.

Nearly half of professionals in Hertfordshire (47 per cent) will not be relaxing properly this summer, but trying to fit in up to three hours’ work each day instead of relaxing by the pool or spending time with families and friends.

This is significantly above the Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire average (32 per cent and 34 per cent respectively), says workspace provider Regus.

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In a previous study workers in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire were shown to enjoy a better work-life balance than the average UK worker, and 61 per cent of workers in Herts declared they are happy with the amount of time they spend with their families.

But this new research raises the question of whether they are truly “switching off” during family time, or trying to juggle the stress of work alongside disgruntled partners and disappointed children.

Amongst those who just can’t take a break are a hard-core minority of serious workaholics: 8 per cent of professionals in Bucks, 7 per cent in Herts and 5 per cent in Beds intend to work for more than three hours per day during their summer holiday.

Dr Katherine Rake, chief executive of the Family and Parenting Institute, said businesses benefit from having rested workers. She said: “Developments in technology such as wifi and smartphones have placed the UK on the cusp of a flexible working revolution, allowing people to work at a time and location which best suits their personal and family needs. But this technological change also means it’s now all too easy, and all too tempting, to allow work to encroach on a precious family holiday.

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“Employers need to support staff to truly switch off while they are on leave. Bosses must introduce company policies banning themselves and other staff from contacting those taking time off. If they can pledge to save the summer holiday in this way, they will be rewarded with more productive workers returning to the office. They will also be helping to defend family life.”

Steve Purdy, UK MD of Regus comments: “We all know how easy it is to check work emails while holiday but that runs the risk of getting sucked into completing tasks that arise from them. With smartphones, netbooks and internet connections everywhere it has become very difficult to really switch off, but taking a break and devoting time to rest, family and friends is vital to remain healthy.

“Reports show a stressed mind is the perfect breeding ground for further unhealthy anxiety. The consequences of not truly taking a break are evident across Britain where stress has become the main cause for long-term sickness absence.

“Businesses need to urgently look at ways of increasing efficiency and productivity to save their staff from carrying work over into their personal time if they want staff to remain happy, healthy and productive. By introducing more flexibility and allowing workers to reduce commute time and work closer to home, businesses can become more efficient leaving workers free to really switch off when they are on holiday.”