Accenture Survey Finds 83 Percent of U.S. Workers Stayed Connected to Their Offices While on Summer Vacation

Laptops & Cell Phones Join Sun Screens & Beach Toys

Palo Alto, CA., Sept. 1, 2000 -- What did you do on your summer vacation? Probably worked at least part of the time, according to a survey commissioned by Accenture. In fact, some 83 percent of U.S. workers who vacationed for seven or more days since April remained in contact with their office. What’s more, one in five workers spent more time staying in touch with their office this year than previous vacations.

The findings were gleaned from a nationwide telephone survey of full-time workers with household incomes of $75,000 or more. Most respondents -- 38 percent -- identified themselves as professional or managerial, with staff/clerical (14 percent) and senior executives (12 percent) the next largest segments. The remaining respondents were fairly evenly divided among the following categories: supervisory, self-employed, administrative and other positions.

"Staying connected is increasingly becoming a fact of life in the new economy," said Thomas H. Davenport, director of the Accenture’s Institute for Strategic Change. "The trend, enabled by the proliferation of mobile technologies, is another example of how digitization is transforming the office and home."

The survey found that 60 percent of workers brought a mobile technology on vacation, with cell phone (56 percent) topping the list, followed by laptop (16 percent) and pager (13 percent). Of those who brought a cell phone, 61 percent left the number with someone at work. Of those, 39 percent received a work-related call while on vacation.

"It’s crucial that we understand how technology is being used today. That’s why we conduct surveys such as this one," said Glover T. Ferguson, Jr., chief scientist, Accenture. "Findings spawn insight. This survey will help shape new ideas about mobile computing, office productivity, or even human performance. This is all about leveraging emerging technologies to improve work and play."

The majority -- 61 percent -- of vacationers who brought their laptops checked work-related e-mails. Of those who checked, 83 percent responded to them while they were away. Those who didn’t keep up with their messages returned to an average of 37 e-mails per week of vacation. One respondent reported returning to 300 e-mails.

Voicemail was most commonly used to stay in touch. Some 33 percent of the respondents reporting checking their voicemail while on vacation. More than half of this group- 54 percent - checked at least once a day. Of those who checked their messages, 62 percent responded. Those didn’t, returned to an average of 11 work-related voicemail messages per week of vacation. Survey highlights:

Compared To Last Year

  • 18 percent spent more time in contact with their office on the most recent vacation
  • 57 percent spent the same amount of time as they had on their last vacation
  • 25 percent spent less time staying in touch on their most recent vacation
Technology Of Choice
  •  56 percent took a cell phone
  • 16 percent took a laptop
  • 13 percent took a pager
(39 percent took one communications item, 17 percent took two items, and 4 percent took all three of these items)


  • 60 percent of those who brought a laptop computer checked their work-related email
  • 83 percent who checked their work e-mail responded to one or more
  • Those who didn’t check returned to an average of 37 e-mails per week of vacation they took (The range zero to 300 emails. Some 16 percent of those who didn’t check e-mail came back to find 50 e-mails for each week they were gone)
  • Those who didn’t check returned to an average of 37 e-mails per week of vacation they took (The range zero to 300 emails. Some 16 percent of those who didn’t check e-mail came back to find 50 e-mails for each week they were gone)
  • Those who didn’t check e-mail, spent a mean time of four hours processing accumulated e-mail. (Range: six minutes to 24 hours)
Cell Phones
  • 61 percent who took cell phones gave someone at the office their number
  • Less than half (41 percent) left guidelines about calling (for example: "Only call if there is a crisis.")
  • 39 percent of respondents who left their number received a work related cell phone call
  • 34 percent of the total sample took a cell phone with them and gave someone at their office their cell phone number
  • 14 percent of the total sample gave instructions about when to contact them (e.g., ’only call me if there is a crisis, an important decision arises,’ etc.)
  • 23 percent of those who took a pager received a work-related page while on vacation and about half responded
Voice Mail
  • 33 percent checked their work-related voicemail while away. (Only two percent of those surveyed did not have work voicemail, underscoring the prevalence of this communication tool in American offices)
  • 54 percent of those checking voicemail at all checked it at least once a day
  • 62 percent of those who checked also responded
  • Men are significantly more likely to check voicemail, but women who check while on vacation are more likely to respond (40 percent of men surveyed checked voicemail messages vs. 27 percent of women. Among those checking, 79 percent of women responded vs. 50 percent of men)
  • Those who did not check voicemail returned to an average of 11 work-related voice mail messages per week of vacation (12 percent had more than 20 messages waiting for each week of but 43 percent did not have any. The range was 0 to 442 messages)
  • It required 1.9 hours of time, on average, to process and respond to the voicemails received (16 percent of those surveyed who didn’t check voicemail while on vacation required more than two hours to return the calls; the range was six minutes to 24 hours)
Other Means Of Keeping In Touch
  • Four percent of those surveyed received work-related mail while away
  • Two percent of respondents received a work-related courier package
Worker Reaction

Respondents were asked which statement best described their feelings about the time spent staying connected while on vacation.

  • 33 percent were "not thrilled" but "recognize the need to stay in touch while I’m gone."
  • 25 percent would "rather stay in touch and keep up with work than return to a backlog."
  • 25 percent were "grateful that we have the technology to stay in touch."
  • 10 percent "resented having to stay in touch."
  • Seven percent said it "felt good to be needed and stay in touch."
  • 33 percent: Northeast
  • 23 percent: South
  • 31 percent: Midwest
  • 15 percent: Rockies or West
Regional Influence
  • Almost all of those living in the Northeast (89 percent) kept in contact with their offices on either their recent vacation or the previous one, compared to:
  • 75 percent of Midwesterners
  • 84 percent of Southerners
  • 82 percent of those who live in the Rockies or the West
  • 48 percent of those surveyed were male
  • 52 percent female
  • Average age was 45
  • 13 percent younger than 35
  • 33 percent: 35 to 44
  • 36 percent: 45 to 54
  • 8 percent: 55 or older
Job Function
  • 38 percent: Professional/managerial
  • 14 percent: Support staff/clerical
  • 12 percent: Senior executives
  • 10 percent: Supervisory
  • 9 percent: Other position/function
  • 8 percent: Self-employed or small business owners
  • 8 percent: Administrative Other position/function
  • 12 percent : Health care/medical industry
  • 8 percent: Education
  • 8 percent: Government
  • 7 percent: Manufacturing
  • 5 percent: Financial services
  • 4 percent: Retail
  • 4 percent: Construction
  • 3 percent: Engineering
  • 2 percent: Automotive
  • 2 percent: Business services
  • 2 percent: High technology
  • 2 percent: Insurance
  • 2 percent: Legal services/law firm
  • 2 percent: Transportation/utilities

About the Survey

The survey was completed by Bowen Marketing Consultants of Concord, Massachusetts. It conducted a nationwide survey of U.S. workers from August 23-26, 2000. The participants included 306 individuals from 43 states and the District of Columbia who met the following qualifications:
  • Household incomes of $75,000 or more
  • Employed full time
  • Work in an office/home office setting; if they worked in a non-office setting, they utilized a computer in some capacity in their job
  • Taken a vacation of at least seven calendar days in length since April 2000