It’s a blue Christmas for office workers, with one-third expecting to work and check email on Christmas Day

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Many office workers and business executives will barely take a break this Christmas, with new research revealing that one-third expect to log on to work and check email on Christmas Day. 47% of those surveyed expect to work and check email on Christmas Eve.

The research carried out by TLF Research for technology firm eShare, was conducted to examine changing Christmas holiday working patterns and habits. 20% of those surveyed said they would log on to work every day of the Christmas holidays, while 7% said they would do so multiple times every day.

“The way many of us live and work now, means that taking a complete break from the office over Christmas is neither desirable nor practical for a great number of people,” said Alister Esam, CEO, eShare. “While traditionalists might lament the changing Christmas work habits, if it helps people relax to quickly check urgent email, or even take time from the festivities to draft an urgent document, then is there really a problem with that?”

The research results would suggest that some business executives are simply not fans of Christmas. 14% said they worked at Christmas because they get bored, while 15% said working gives them a chance to sneak away from their family for a bit. 

However, in results that highlighted the ‘always on’ and 24/7 culture we live in, almost half of respondents (44%) said it was less relaxing for them to be unaware of what might be happening at work. 40% of those surveyed said it was vital they knew of anything important going in the business, while 10% said they enjoy work and don’t feel the need to take a complete break.

It would also appear that more than a third of workers felt it was expected of them to work during the festive period. 35% said that their clients expect them to be available over Christmas and 36% said other colleagues expected it of them. 34% said they expected their colleagues also to work over Christmas.

“While business certainly slows down at Christmas, modern businesses trade all over the world and with many countries and cultures not celebrating Christmas, it stands reason certain people within an organisation will need to be contactable and on top of anything that might be happening,” continued Alister Esam. “Most frequently it will be the business owners or board level executives at large firms that feel the need to stay in touch, but there are ways to manage Christmas work so that it doesn’t become all consuming.”

“Perhaps ringfence some time each day to check emails if required, or even try and work offline, catching up on work reading and making edits and annotations to reports and documents that will show up later. Being online can be distracting at the best of times, so working offline means you avoid that distraction and aren’t tempted to respond to non-urgent emails as and when they arrive.”

40% of those surveyed felt they were being conscientious by logging on over the festive period, while others had ulterior motives for Christmas working – 18% were using ‘presenteeism’, and wanting to show others that they were working hard.

“Logging on to look busy is daft and will fool no-one. But if people feel obliged to work over Christmas – by clients, co-workers or management – then that is where problems can emerge,” concluded Alister Esam. "If it is essential for people to work over Christmas, then involving HR to agree what is expected and confirm possible time in lieu is a positive step in managing this potentially thorny issue.”

Pear Digital Team