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Modern technology dictates staff are never on holiday

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Current work practices in the UK are not working - and the idea of multitasking in the workplace is a myth, according to new findings.

According to research from The Energy Project Europe to coincide with the launch of The Way We're Working Isn't Working by Tony Schwartz, Jean Gomes and Catherine McCarthy, modern technology dictates staff are never on holiday.

The findings show 87% of those surveyed admitted checking emails on holidays and days off and 55% fail to take their full leave entitlement each year, with one in 20 (5%) missing out on over two weeks' leave

Two thirds (66%) of employees go just two hours without email while 22% only switch off for 30 minutes a day.

And because of the actual lack of focus this style of working necessitates, staff are missing out on a proper lunch break and wasting over a day a week, due to unnecessary and unproductive work. This adds up to a staggering 11 weeks a year.

Almost two thirds (62%) don't have enough time for family and friends, 54% spend less than two hours a day with family and friends, and 62% feel the need to take alcohol to relax.


Only half of those surveyed were regular users of Twitter and, of those, 47% admitted to being distracted by the service.

Jean Gomes, chairman of the Energy Project Europe, said: "The survey confirms the growing realisation that we're not designed to work like computers. While many of us have negatively and unconsciously adapted to the notion of 'internet time' - the expectation that we should always be on - we only truly perform at our best when we regularly renew. It's a myth that top performers are at their best with no sleep, no holidays and no breaks during the day. They all recognise that they excel only when they balance working and recovery. What our work says is that we need to turn conventional wisdom on its head.

"In our experience, the very top performers across all disciplines employ recovery as the means to achieving the best performance. The fact that it leads to a happier and more satisfying life all round should be embraced by employers looking to find some positive news in these challenging economic times."

The survey was conducted online during June 2010 and polled 233 executives and entrepreneurs across the UK. The composition of the group was as follows:

Chief executive/managing director: 27%
VP/director: 37%
Line manager: 23%
Executive (non-managerial): 9%
Graduate: 4%