'Hello, I'm Out of the Office...But Checking Email...'

Survey: One-Third of Canadian Professionals Don’t Disconnect from Work During Vacation

out of office graph

Workers were asked, “What are the reasons you check in with the office while on vacation?”*


55% To gain peace of mind that things are under control
51% To keep projects moving along
47% To avoid coming back to extra work
25% To prevent colleagues from feeling undue stress
9% Other

Source: Accountemps survey from more than 400 workers age 18+ in Canada

*Multiple responses were allowed.

© 2017 Accountemps. A Robert Half Company

Toronto, ON – Are vacations where people completely disconnect from the office a thing of the past? Research shows “workations” may continue to be common for some professionals today. In a recent survey from staffing firm Accountemps, 33 per cent of Canadian workers said they typically check in with the office at least once or twice a week during their vacation, not changing significantly from 36 per cent one year ago.

On the bright side, those who do connect with the office do so fewer times during their break: six per cent of workers touch base at least once or twice a day, compared to 10 per cent in 2016. Their reasons for checking in include gaining peace of mind that things were under control (55 per cent), keeping projects moving along (51 per cent), avoiding coming back to extra work (47 per cent) and preventing colleagues from feeling undue stress (25 per cent).

“Vacations are an opportunity to relax, recharge and return to work with a clear head and fresh perspective,” said Dianne Hunnam-Jones, Canadian president of Accountemps. “Down time can provide the break needed for you to come back more focused and productive.”

Hunnam-Jones added, “While completely disconnecting may not be feasible for all employees, managers should lead by example by setting limits on time spent checking in and encouraging their teams to follow suit.”

Additional findings from the Accountemps survey:

  • Professionals plan to take an average of 11 vacation days this summer – unchanged from last year’s survey.
  • Twenty-six per cent of those surveyed said they plan to take more vacation days this summer compared to last year. Thirty-two per cent of workers 55 and over plan on taking more time off, compared to 30 per cent of those between the ages of 18 and 34, and only 21 per cent of workers ages 35 to 54.
  • Fourteen per cent of respondents plan to take fewer days off than they did last summer. Thirteen per cent of female workers plan to take fewer days off, compared to 16 per cent of male workers.
  • More than half (53 per cent) of professionals said they could use more time to recharge. Fifty-six per cent of females surveyed said they don’t have enough time off versus 50 per cent of males.
  • Sixty-six per cent of total respondents said they don’t check in at all while on summer vacation. Seventy-seven per cent of workers 55 and older don’t connect with the office during their break, compared to 68 per cent of respondents ages 35 to 54 and 61 per cent of workers ages 18 to 34.

Accountemps offers four ways managers and professionals can unplug while on vacation:

  1. Promote the benefits of taking vacation. Managers should encourage their teams to disconnect during their time off to reap the full advantages of time away.
  2. Let colleagues know. Once your vacation request has been approved, give key contacts advanced notice about your time off. Wrap up projects and appoint a team member to handle your daily tasks in your absence. If you plan to truly disconnect, make it clear to your manager and team.   
  3. Set boundaries. If you feel compelled to check in, set a schedule for the brief times you’ll be accessible and note it in your out-of-office reply. Try to avoid checking email outside of those hours to rest and recharge.
  4. Get back on track. Upon your return, schedule a quick meeting with your manager or team to get caught up on what you may have missed and what projects are a priority.

About the Research

The survey was developed by Accountemps and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 400 Canadian workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments.

About Accountemps
Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The staffing firm has 325 offices worldwide. More resources, including job search services and the company’s blog, can be found at roberthalf.ca/accountemps. Follow us at @RobertHalf_CAN for additional workplace news and hiring trends.