Is the Working Vacation a U.S. Phenomenon?

By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2008-06-02

Last week, I wrote a bit about the impossibility of "unwired" vacations, especially if you work in the part of IT where your job is essentially to be on call in case of blips or outages.

Some people told me that they stay connected while they're on vacation because their bosses or managers demand that they do, but they were in a minority. Most stay online when they are supposed to be offline out of a combination of feeling obligated even though, officially, they are not and a desire to cut down on in-box overload when they return.

Yet a curious few admitted that they are antsy when they go away, so used to being connected and needed, so they check in to reassure themselves that they are.

According to one e-mail responder, this is a purely American phenomenon. He writes:

I am a US citizen who has lived and worked in Germany, Spain, and Switzerland. The US work culture if very specific to us. We live to work, while other cultures work to live.

Our connection to our work defines us. "So, what do you do?" is a common cocktail party conversation. Men when they are laid off are emotionally crushed. Women work to break through the glass ceiling.

These attitudes are cultural. People on vacation feel the need to be needed. They feel better that way. If we step away for vacation and the world works fine without us, we feel disappointed.

I, on the other hand, have the different attitude. With proper expectations and a trusted staff, a vacation is a vacation. Period.

Do you agree?

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