June 20, 2016
The Washington Post
The boundaries between work and home have been blurred. Economics columnist Robert J. Samuelson reports on the new American work culture of the omnipresent office:
You might think that this allergy to pleasure reflects the unsteady state of the U.S. labor market. People don’t spend too much time away from the office for fear that their jobs will have disappeared when they return. There may be something to this. After all, the gap between vacation-earned and vacation-taken first appeared around 2000, just as the tech boom was ending, and has gotten worse ever since.
Some survey data are consistent with this view. When asked why they don’t take more vacation, respondents to the Project Time Off study cited the following: fear of returning to a “mountain of work” (37 percent); a belief that “no one else can do the job” (30 percent); a decision that “I cannot financially afford a vacation” (30 percent).
But if the business cycle’s ups and downs mainly caused these anxieties, then the economy’s recovery (today’s unemployment rate: 4.7 percent) should have reversed them. It should encourage workers to use more of their vacation time. It hasn’t. What truly unnerves workers, argues study author Katie Denis, is growing Internet “connectivity,” from email to smartphones. The boundaries between work and home have blurred; the office is “omnipresent,” she says.