On the Web: When Business Gets Personal

Has the digital revolution gone too far when it comes to personal time?

By Erin Erickson, Sr. Digital Editor

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On my desk sits two phones: an iPhone and a BlackBerry. I use one phone for work (the BlackBerry) and one phone for personal (the iPhone).  It doesn't matter what desk I'm at – work or home office – the phones are always there. In fact, it's almost safe to say my phones have become bosom buddies since meeting not so long ago.

Regardless of where I'm at, the phones are with me: Kids' school events, karate practice, even on my night stand. I check the phones every morning as I lay in bed waiting for my body, mind and eyes to catch up with one another.

Some might say I've crossed over a very thin line of letting my business life invade my personal life. That's probably true. I have a really hard time relaxing when my work email has more than one unread email. The thought of going on vacation or being out of the office for any length of time ties me up into knots.

It doesn't matter that I have remote access for my job; if I'm not performing, I feel sort of, well, useless and anxious. Apparently, I’m not alone.

A recent survey from the U.K.’s Institute of Leadership and Management revealed that nearly 40 percent of mid- to high-level U.K. employees and managers claim a vacation leaves them feeling “more anxious” than before they left the office.

Penny de Valk, the institute’s chief executive, explains: “This anxiety is almost certainly due to the high workloads we anticipate returning to, and the fear of what might be waiting for us when we get back. While technology means it is easier than ever to work remotely, it also makes it extremely hard to switch off.”

Of those polled who who work while on vacation, 80 percent frequently responded to e-mails, nearly 50 percent took phone calls and 10 percent even went to the office. Over two-thirds of those who own a smartphone said they check it at least once a day.

How many of you experience the same anxiety? Do you constantly check your work voice mail or e-mail so that you're not inundated in the morning?

I'd love to hear your answers. If you'd be so kind, please let me know your thoughts and I'll follow up with the results in an upcoming column.

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