Performance Management Blog

Working while Not Working – The Problem of Overconnectedness

I wrote a blog up a year ago about statistics on work and working and the interconnection with vacation time. I thought I would also update that, since I just read an article in Mother Jones magazine about the issues and problems of always being connected to the business life. Pretty scary stuff, all in all. And it points out research that shows disconnecting can be really beneficial.



We ARE in need of some brain freeing vacation time. An Intercall survey of American employees showed that people are simply NOT paying attention during conference calls.

  • 65% said they did other work at the same time as pretending to participate
  • 55% that they prepared or ate food
  • 47% that they went to the bathroom
  • 25% that they played video games
  • 27% confessed to falling asleep at least once during a call, and
  • 5% said they’d had a friend POSE as themselves in order to skip it completely.

People are simply disengaged, over-meeting’d and in need of a break from work to put humpty dumpty back together. You can find a more expansive article clicking on this link. The rest of this blog gets into that data.


As background and perspective, I am now well into my 30th year of running Performance Management Company, which started as a consulting business working in people and performance areas, with a shift to customer service quality and then to change management and now to themes of workplace involvement and engagement. The shift to selling materials has been a good one and the pressures of the day=to-day have shifted as I enter my 66th year of being in the business of living.

As a small business, I can affirm that one is almost always thinking about the business — it is impossible to get away. And I used to joke about spending 50% of my time marketing, 50% of my time developing materials and 50% of my time actually doing things to make money. Only the reality is that 50% + 50% + 50% is actually 100% small business reality…

(One of the very best articles ever about the issues of running a small business is Wilson Harrell’s 1987 article, Entrepreneurial Terror that appeared in Inc, Magazine. Heck, I still give out photocopies of that to people every so often…)

A Harris / Adweek poll two years ago said that 52% of Americans will work during their summer vacation this year. The survey showed that working people are expecting to perform a variety of tasks, including:

  • Reading work-related emails – 30%
  • Receiving work-related phone calls – 23%
  • Accessing documents on home computer – 19%
  • Receiving work-related text messages – 18%
  • Accessing documents on work computer – 13%
  • Asked to do work by a boss, client or colleague – 13%

Clive Thompson, writing in Mother Jones magazine, shared a good bit of interesting information on the issue of being plugged in all the time and why we need to unplug. View that actual article here.

He shared data from the Center for Creative Leadership finding that 60% of smartphone-using professionals were work-connected for a full 13+ hours a day and that they spent another 5 hours playing with emails on weekends. That adds up to 72 hours a week of job-related content — with pay for 40 hours!

Another study by Good Technology found that 68% of people checked work email before work — before 0800 — and that 50% checked it while in bed before going to sleep! Almost 40% check email at the dinner table! And the APA reports that one in ten check email hourly – when on vacation!

It would seem that the entrepreneurial issue of always feeling that one had to be connected is now everyone’s problem. And there is that scene from “Deal of The Century” (Chevy Chase) where Harold (Wallace Shawn) is waiting for the phone call and cannot leave his room. (Watch it here – 4 minutes and very well done!)– Chevy does a coaching / inspirational talk about making the sale.


Pressure. Pressure to make the sale. Pressure to complete a project. Pressure from the team. Pressure from the boss. Pressures of all kinds from working.

WITH our connectedness and other electronic support and unpaid work time, corporate productivity is up 23% since 2000. Inflation-adjusted wages and benefits are up 4% for these same jobs. (Data from Economic Policy Institute) And, Clive Thompson wrote, the marketing research firm Radicati Group reports that we can expect to receive 22% more business email by 2015 than we did 3 years ago. Managers get about 300 emails a day, from what I read, so when do we actually find any time to think, to innovate, to build trust in our relationships, or to even relax?

We are being multi-tasked and over-managed, we are being spread thinner and thinner, expected to know more about more things but also unable to get the training time or even understand how things work in many of our jobs.

And the research supports that reality that some play and relaxation and free time to reflect and refocus does an awful lot to rebuild motivation and morale.

Pin Balloon Play Performance poem

PMC sells Square Wheels illustrations and performance-based team building exercises to help put more play into performance improvement initiatives. Click on the icon below to see more information on our website:

THE+Games for Teambuilding PMC Home Page icon 1

Have some FUN out there! (Yeah, me, too.)

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at

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Dr. Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of the amazing Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building game and the Square Wheels facilitation and engagement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced global presenter. -- You can reach Scott at and a detailed profile is here: -- Scott is the original designer of The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding game and the Square Wheels® images for organizational development.

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  1. russlinden

    INteresting, and worrisome data here Scott. Well done, Russ

  2. Robin

    great research to make a very powerful comment Scott, thank you


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