It’s that time of year: summer vacation season. Whether you’re hopping on a cruise or jetting to a picturesque island or even hiking through the woods, a new Glassdoor study reveals that there’s a strong chance you’re going to bring your work laptop and you’ll actually do work.

Despite taking PTO or vacation days, 2 in 3 Americans (66 percent) today report working when they do take vacation compared to three years ago (61 percent). The study also revealed that the average U.S. employee (of those who receive vacation/paid time off) has only taken about half (54 percent) of his or her eligible vacation time/paid time off in the past 12 months.

This survey, conducted online in March/April by Harris Poll among 2,224 adults ages 18 and older, took a look at employee vacation time realities, including the percentage of eligible vacation time/paid time off employees actually take, along with how much they work and why while on vacation, among other trends.

Simply put, Americans just cannot unplug from work. Whether self-imposed or an unwritten rule of your workplace, American employees are not taking the vacation time they need — and earned! — to fully recharge and to spend time with family and friends.

But I can multitask on vacation, working and spending quality time with my family?

That’s what you think, but research dispels this myth.

14 percent of survey respondents admitted that a family member complained when they saw them working on vacation. Tisk tisk. And it’s not just about sending a quick email from your iPhone or reading work docs on your tablet. 29 percent of survey respondents said they had been contacted by a co-worker while on vacation, and 25 percent said that they had been contacted by their boss.

“We are seeing a push and pull situation when it comes to employees taking vacation and paid time off, in which people attempt to step away from the office for a break from work, but technology is keeping them connected with the swipe of a finger,” said Carmel Galvin, Glassdoor chief human resources officer.

“While taking a vacation may make employees temporarily feel behind, they should realize that stepping away from work and fully disconnecting carries a ripple effect of benefits. It allows employees to return to work feeling more productive, creative, recharged and reenergized. In turn, employers should consider what a vacation really means — to actually vacate work — and how they can support employees to find true rest and relaxation to avoid burnout and turnover within their organizations.”

If you’re planning your summer vacation, try hard to completely disconnect. Here’s some quick advice for how to achieve a work-free vacay:

  1. Put in for your vacation as soon as possible. Once your request is approved, tell you team and make it clear that you will be unreachable.
  2. Be proactive before your vacation by discussing a back-up plan with your manager. Be prepared with several ideas about who can do what responsibilities while you are away.
  3. Craft a helpful “Out of Office” reply. Make sure that those who email you while you’re on vacation have resources and access to someone else on your team who can help in your absence.
  4. Ensure your back-up person is primed for success. Plan adequate time for your back-up to spend time with you at your desk and with your manager. Your goal is to have you and your manager feel confident that your back-up can be depended upon to get the job done. The better prepared your back-up is, the easier it will be for you to relax while away.

Methodology: The 2017 survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Glassdoor from March 30 — April 3, 2017 among 2,224 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among which 1,209 are employed, 852 receive vacation/paid time off, and 771 took vacation/paid time off in the past 12 months. The 2015 survey was conducted in March 12–14, 2014 among 2,022 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among which 1,089 were employed, 736 received vacation/paid time off, and 623 took vacation/paid time off in the past 12 months. These online surveys are not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact [email protected].

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Originally published at on May 24, 2017.

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