We've all seen idyllic 8mm home movies from summer vacations of bygone eras. A swim-capped child waves at the camera before cannonballing into a lake. An apron-wearing dad sips a beer and flips burgers. A mom in horn-rimmed glasses waves sparklers in the air as the evening sky turns pink over the ocean.

These were the vacations we thought we'd have: tranquil, disconnected, and perfect.

Today these home movies are a window to an alien world where people are actually able to disconnect from the stress of work for days at a time. Now business happens in near real-time through email and instant messenger. Mobile devices pressure workers to keep up the pace regardless of time and location.

Wrike launched a Summer Productivity Survey using SurveyMonkey Audience to better understand how Americans balance the need for vacation with their work obligations. Are workers still able to carve out time for R&R without stressing about their projects at the office? If not, what factors cause them to reach for their phones?

Let’s dig into our most interesting survey findings, which compare vacation trends among men and women, Millennials and Baby Boomers, and much more.

Men Are More Likely To Work On Vacation

Our survey reveals men are much more likely to work during vacation, with 40% planning to make themselves available compared to 30% of women.

Women Feel More Stressed After Vacation

Coming back to work after vacation is stressful for everyone, but women bear the brunt of the anxiety, according to our survey. Women are not as ready to go back to work as men, and also experience more stress about returning. Since men are more likely to work on vacation, this suggests working on trips reduces post-vacation stress.


Younger Workers Feel Guilty About Taking Vacation

Don’t let their smiling Instagram #summervacation posts fool you: Millennials struggle with more vacation guilt than Generation X and Baby Boomers put together. This is surprising given our survey also found Millennials are less likely to use all their vacation days or take 10+ day vacations compared to older generations.

Bosses Influence Millennials To Work On Vacation

Managers who want to encourage a healthy work/life balance should consider the example they set on their own vacations. Millennials are much more likely than Gen-X and Boomers to work on vacation if their bosses do. Men are also more likely than women to follow in their managers’ footsteps and work while traveling.

People Who Work on Vacation Do It to Enjoy Vacation More

Think people work on vacation to appease colleagues and clients? Respondents revealed working on vacation makes their time more enjoyable and returning to work less stressful.

Which of the following reasons may cause you to work during your vacation? 

  • I enjoy my work and don't mind checking in (22%)
  • To prevent something from falling through the cracks (20%)
  • I can enjoy vacation better knowing things are going OK at work (19%)
  • It helps make returning to work feel less stressful (17%)

Better Visibility for Teams Could Lead to Less Vacation Work

Future generations will see fewer sparklers and swim caps and a lot more computers and emailing when they roll the footage of today’s summer vacations. Our survey findings are clear: Workers have found the benefits of complete R&R can’t outweigh the post-vacation stress of unfinished projects and missed deadlines.

But this “always-on” mentality can’t last forever. Collaborative work management tools save employees from burning out like the summer sun, giving colleagues access to all the information they need to complete projects without asking for help.

Unfortunately, only 10% of our survey respondents claim to store their project data in the cloud. Providing workers with a single place to store projects, update work statuses, access documents, and so much more gives them the confidence their team can find the critical information they need to keep projects on track while they enjoy their vacations.

We hope our findings prompt you to consider how organization and operations on your team impact workers’ ability to rest and recharge this summer. Click here to download the full survey report or fill out the form below.