One of the great pleasures of the holiday season for most workers is the time off work. Christmas and New Years offer a read- made reason to take a break, kick back with loved ones, and really unwind for a few days.

That's what we tell ourselves anyway.

But a new survey that drills down into our holiday habits reveals our workaholism apparently knows no bounds and even Christmas Day isn't enough to break our screen addiction.

More flexible and more addicted

The poll of over 600 full-time U.S. employees was conducted by global collaboration company West Unified Communications and asked about holiday work plans. It revealed both some good and some bad news about our work habits over the festive season.

First, the good news: work is getting more flexible and more people are taking advantage of work-from-home arrangements to manage holiday scheduling madness. "70 percent of employees that have the ability to work remotely plan to do so at least one day during the holiday," reports the company's blog. Only 16 percent of those polled will use only time off to cope with the seasonal crunch.

"Twenty years ago, that 16 percent taking only paid time off would be nearly 100 percent," notes the blog.

This flexibility has a dark side though. Now that we can all work whenever we want, apparently we can't stop ourselves from doing it all the time. The survey shows a full 66 percent of people plan to check work email on Christmas Day.

Think about it, that's horrifying. On what is one of the most special and family-oriented days of the year for many people, we're taking time away from squealing kids and gingerbread cookies for... what exactly? Unless you're an emergency room physician, police officer, or firefighter, what of substance could possible demand your attention on Christmas Day?

Time for a digital sabbath?

That 66 percent is pretty much incontrovertible evidence of our collective screen addiction. What should we all do about it? Reflecting on and breaking that compulsion is certainly a sensible long-term goal (resolution season approaches!), but in the short term maybe we should all just declare a digital sabbath this holiday.

Tech bigwigs from Randi Zuckerberg to VC Brad Feld have endorsed the idea of a periodic complete device switch off to clear the mind and make space for other important life priorities (like talking to your family without constantly checking your phone). And the holidays are certainly a convenient time to get started with the idea - work is slow to non-existent on some days so you won't miss much, and this is already a traditional time for reflection and gratitude.

So how about it, are you joining the nearly two thirds of Americans who will be mindlessly and meaninglessly checking their phones this festive season, or are you planning to declare the holidays a device-free time?

Published on: Nov 28, 2017
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