By Maximilian Clarke

Nearly two thirds of small business office workers are working over the Christmas break this year, and 41% will have to travel into the office to do so.

However, one in three believe very little work will actually be achieved over Christmas and New Year, according to the latest report on work trends from Regus, providers of flexible workplaces. With productivity expected to be low, it seems that festive working — especially with a commute - provides little value to employers and scuppers workers’ chances of a restful break.

Even those who are supposedly on holiday won’t be out of touch, with 71% checking work emails regularly on their mobile devices and two fifths will be expected to do some work by their employers. Not surprisingly 27% of workers in small to mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) report that working on holiday has caused “serious upset” for family, friends or partners in the past. They are evidently intending to turn over a new leaf in the New Year, though: 60% plan to take more holiday in 2012!

Technology has enabled many positive changes in workplace practices — not least mobile and remote working — but Regus’ survey highlights the danger of not “switching off.”

“Our research suggests many people are not taking full advantage of the Christmas break and, if they are also travelling into the office to work, are unnecessarily squandering precious time with their loved ones,” says Celia Donne, Regional Director, Regus. “Over Christmas, flexible working options are more important than ever: employers should be ensuring that they offer some degree of choice in where and when staff work, whether that’s flexible hours, home-working or using a workplace closer to home rather than commuting.

“The survey sounds a note of caution to those who have taken holiday but plan to be in “online” regardless. It is ironic that the very technology that affords us flexibility and freedom from the traditional fixed office set-up also blurs the distinction between work and home life. Stress and burn-out are very real threats, and local employers must ensure that they harness the many positive aspects of today’s technology whilst encouraging a healthy work/life balance amongst staff.”

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