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Vacation Should Mean Vacation in the Tech Era

By Brett Snider, Esq. on August 06, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

We live in the always-on age. Around the clock we can log in and communicate electronically in many ways.

While this often is advantageous and convenient in the working world, this dynamic can create challenges and even risks when it comes to vacations.

'Vacation' Means Taking a Break

We are rewarded with vacation for a reason. It gives us the opportunity to take a break from the workplace, relax, and rejuvenate ourselves with down time and leisure activities.

However, we have grown increasing accustomed to reaching for our smartphones, tablets and laptops so that we can keep in touch and stay on top of work developments, even when we are supposed to be "off."

Digital burnout has become such a problem that there are now specific getaways premised on disconnecting people from their devices, like Camp Grounded in California, The New York Times reports.

Over time, this unhealthy connection to our data streams can take its toll. There is greater likelihood of mental burnout and lower productivity when one returns to the workplace without a genuine break from the buzz of the working world.

Risk to Employers

Aside from the deleterious effects a working vacation can have on personal well-being, companies are growing increasingly concerned about the risks presented from personnel working remotely while on vacation.

One potential risk facing any company is the possible leak of sensitive company information while an employee is using a smartphone in a public place. By the same token, there can be less security when vacationing employees forward private company communications to their personal email accounts.

Company information also can be pirated when employees use Wi-Fi hot spots while on vacation. And, of course, many smartphones and other devices are lost each year when employees are traveling, which can lead to misappropriation of confidential information.

Because of these risks, some companies now are not allowing employees to work remotely on vacation, or if they do, they provide strict guidelines that are to be followed. Hopefully, these employers also are compassionate, wanting their employees to refresh themselves by taking true vacations, not working vacations.

Part of the onus, naturally, has to be on the employee too. Even if working vacations are permissible, that employee would be well served to opt-out of checking email, enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, and leave work to another non-vacation day.

Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please email him at with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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