Has the Disconnected Vacation Become Extinct?

You call this a vacation? Four out of five IT workers stay in touch with the office while away-by choice.

Since the advent of the PDA-and to a lesser degree, cell phones and laptops-workers have been decrying the end of vacation as they know it.

Technology has given employers the ability to reach workers at all times in all places-making it impossible for employees to maintain boundaries between times off and being on-the-clock. The villains in these equations were a combination of pushy bosses, workers with poor time-management skills and wireless connectivity.

However, reports and studies increasingly suggest that many workers simply can't disconnect. One in four workers said they plan to stay connected with work while they're on vacation this summer, a percentage that has nearly doubled in the last two years, according to a survey released by CareerBuilder.com May 20.

The bulk of these hyper-connected workers were in the IT industry. Beat out only by sales workers, 37 percent of IT workers said they planned to check in while away.

Yet while IT workers also led the way in the requirement to be connected in the off-hours-19 percent said working, checking voice mail and/or e-mail while on vacation was mandated by their employers-the reverse of this is that four in five IT workers are checking in with their jobs while on vacation on their own volition.

So if they're not required to, why do IT workers stay in touch while on vacation? The answer to this may lie as much within the various rationales given by workers as it does with the newly blurred line between time on and time off.

A recent study found that for many, being connected all of the time is a borderline obsession for some.

The Solutions Research Group study found that 68 percent of Americans feel anxious when they're not connected in one way or another. This "disconnect anxiety"-feelings of disorientation and nervousness when a person is deprived of Internet or wireless access for a period of time-affects all age groups, describing their feelings when offline as dazed, tense, inadequate and even panicked.

The study also found that 63 percent of BlackBerry users admitted to having sent a message from the bathroom.

In fact, this concept of "technology addiction" has gone so far that U.S. psychiatrists are considering adding this "compulsive-impulsive" disorder to the next release of the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) in 2011.