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Time ‘off’ – workers only switch off for four of fourteen days on holiday

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The average British worker only switches off and relaxes for four days of a two-week holiday, a study has revealed. Researchers found it takes the average worker almost three days to reach the point where they can forget about work and really start to unwind after arriving on holiday.

But by day seven, workers are already starting to worry about what’s happening back in the office, often checking emails and even phoning colleagues to check everything is OK.

Millions of workers also admitted to taking their laptop to the pool or beach, leaving dinner to answer a call and even spending their evenings working to ease their worries about how things are at home.

One in five even believe they are more likely to switch off from work on a shorter holiday than a longer holiday because they don’t have to worry so much about the work mounting up.

Claire Bentley, managing director, BA Holidays, which commissioned the research, said:

”Many believe that getting away from things for two weeks means you can really switch off – more so than if you just went for a long weekend away.

”But it seems for some the opposite is actually true.

”Our most popular short breaks among workers are for stays in Boutique hotels in cities such as Amsterdam, Brussels, Milan and Berlin, highlighting that many workers are opting for luxury short breaks to get maximum relaxation and minimum time worrying about work.”

The study of 2,000 workers found one in five admit they always worry about work while on holiday, with more than a quarter dreading the amount of tasks that are piling up in their absence.

One in five even admitted to day-dreaming about the office while sitting on the beach or lounging by the pool.

And the average worker admits that by the beginning of the 2nd week they’ve given in, already phoning or texting colleagues and checking emails.

More than a fifth of those polled also admitted to visiting an internet café near their hotel so they can take a look at emails, while 15% take their laptop to the pool or beach with them.

Around one in four have texted or called colleagues from their holiday destination, with almost one in twenty even spending their evenings hard at work.

Almost one in five workers also said their bosses expect them to be contactable while they are away, with another 13% saying they are required to at least keep an eye on their emails.

It also emerged that almost a fifth of workers would worry about returning to work at the end of a two week break if they didn’t check in a few times while they were away.

Because of this, 15% admit they sometimes find a holiday more stressful than relaxing because they spend so much time worrying about work.

Not having to leave colleagues to do your work for you and believing your boss would leave you alone if you are only out of the office for a few days are also among the reasons for heading off on a short break instead of the traditional fortnight.

Almost one in five even said they find a shorter break more relaxing and more enjoyable than going away for two full weeks.

Susan Gellately, British Airways‘ destination manager for southern Europe said:

”For people who have highly demanding jobs, short breaks are the perfect way to relax, without the worry of work.

”Within hours of leaving the office you can be sat soaking up the atmosphere of another country, and still be back in time for work on Monday morning.”