More Danes work during their holidays

Around half of Danes work during their time off, up from ten percent in 2008 and twenty percent just a year ago

An increasing number of Danes are spending their summer holidays answering emails and getting a grip on paperwork instead of enjoying some beach time.

About half of the members of the members of Djøf, a professional association of lawyers and economists, work during their holiday. In 2008 every tenth worked during their holidays, while that figure had risen to 20 percent last year.

It is particularly managers who have found themselves being unable to unplug, but the phenomena also extends to rank-and-file workers.

Jeanette Lemmergaard, an occupational health researcher at Syddansk Universitet, said the trend was tied to the spread of smartphones, laptops and tablet computers, but put much of the blame on employees themselves .

“As highly skilled workers, we are under the impression that we are invaluable and at the same time we want to appear dynamic,” Lemmergaard told the magazine Djøfbladet. “We are beginning to create a rather unpleasant work culture which is contagious. If the boss and our colleagues check their email and answer phone calls during their vacation, then we do too.”

Lisbeth Kjersgård, the head occupational health for Djøf, said 90 percent of members expected assignments to have piled up while they were out of the office.

”Many probably experience that it will make them less stressed if they answer some emails and take care of some tasks during their time off so it doesn’t accumulate until they return,” Kjersgård told Djøfbladet. “But it’s a slippery slope because it means that they don’t rid their bodies of that daily stress.”

Managers, according to Lemmergaard, must lead by example and guarantee that people don’t feel they have to work when they should be relaxing.

“More and more people are burning out in their jobs because they’re never really off. We are so afraid that we aren’t performing as we should be and the higher up in the organisation you are the more focus there is on your actions,” Lemmergaard said. “It’s up to the management to demonstrate what good and flexible work life is, and that does not include being accessible every hour of the day.”

Some companies, according to Lemmergaard, ask their employees to deposit their work phones before the weekends or holidays, and she said perhaps that’s what it would take for people to unwind in the future.

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