Getting away from the office is getting harder to do

A new survey finds Americans more tethered to work by their mobile devices than they ever were to landlines.

Jeff Horwich: These days when you leave the office -- if you go to an office at all -- it's easy to take the office with you on mobile devices.

Maybe too easy: A survey by the software company Good Technology says more than 80 percent of us keep checking emails and taking calls. On average, we put in an extra seven hours a week. Here's reporter Jacqueline Guzman.


Jacqueline Guzman: Let’s face it: We're more hooked to our mobile devices than we ever were to landlines. In New York, It’s easy to find people tethered to their offices.

Thy Bui: I probably check my email five to six times a night. On vacations I probably check even more, like right now.

Eric Seaman: I wake up in the middle of the night and check it, because if I don’t, I’ll have more work the next day. So that’s why I’m so tired right now.

Emmanuelle Welch: You just do it because people don’t really understand -- especially in the U.S. -- why you have to go on vacation.

So, we check in -- on vacation, at the dinner table and in bed!

John Herrema is a senior vice president at Good Technology. He says we do it mostly to keep clients happy and to stay on top of things. But part of us likes getting messages.

John Herrema: You actually get a little burst of endorphins. But, I mean, overall it’s the idea that you’re wanted and that someone wants to connect to you, there’s certainly some gratification that comes with that.

Herrema says being connected does have its rewards. You can leave the office early, take long lunches with friends and go to your child’s soccer game.

But all that “checking in” can also add up. Good Technology did a survey of this. Turns out, in a year, we put in an extra month and a half of unpaid work-- just by checking our mobile devices after hours.

Debra Dinnocenzo consults on work-life balance in the digital age. She says the boundaries of a normal workday have been blurred. Now we’re not sure when it’s OK to disconnect.

Debra Dinnocenzo: As a matter of fact, turning their phones off is a pretty novel idea to a lot of people.

And in a competitive job market, we’re scared of being disconnected. We let work creep into our personal lives, because no one tells us to stop.

Dinnocenzo says it’s up to us to draw the line.

Dinnocenzo: If you’re waiting for your organization to provide work-life balance for you, you’ll be dead before that happens.

Unless you’re paid a 24-7 salary, it’s probably time to prioritize what gets answered now, and what can wait for later.

In New York, I’m Jacqueline Guzman for Marketplace.

About the author

Jacqueline Guzman joined Marketplace in June 2012. She is a recent graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and covers consumer finance, health and arts & culture.

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