While Some Are Home for the Holidays, Others Are Working

By Michael Hill

Typist Levar Baker is working the last week of the year. He’s used up his 13 vacation days at a state agency.

When asked if he would you rather have the time off, he said, “Of course I would. I love to have the time off.”

A new Robert Half survey shows Baker will have some company working the end of 2015. The poll of more than 1,000 office workers shows 59 percent will be on the job at least part of the week.

“It’s actually not going to be a ghost town out in the offices,” Dawn Fay, District President of NY/NJ Robert Half, said.

79 percent of those who will work plan to be productive.

“Some obviously more than others, but it’s a really good time of the year to get focused for the new year, to clean up your office and your desk to really be prepared to kick the new year off strong,” Fay said.

28 percent will take the whole week off, half of them because their companies will close. 60 percent of them plan to check in with the office. It’s a number that grows every year as workers blur the line between work and home.

“I think that could be a double-edged sword,” Fay said. “It could be a good thing and a bad thing. You can be able to keep business moving and stay connected, but sometimes you really have to make sure you do find the time to break away so you can get rest and re-charge your battery.”

“This really is the issue for the immediate future. There are, I hate to say it, significant wage and hour issues involved and whether that constitutes working time or not,” John Sarno, President of the Employers Association of New Jersey, said.

“Understandably, there is a spike in requests for time off at the holidays,” Maureen Corcoran said.

Corcoran, Prudential Vice President, says it’s always a balancing act to cover the business bases, but still have thousands of its employees enjoy the holidays with family. She says 80 percent of the Fortune 100 companies U.S. employees remotely access company systems and telecommute each month.

“The goal is minimize that while you’re on vacation, but, it’s certainly doable. It’s doable and desirable for a couple of reasons: One, you want to check on if you have to. One, you’re just interested to see how work is going and another is practical because we don’t want to come back to several pages of emails if we can manage that as we go,” Corcoran said.

“What does it say about us as Americans? It means that we are really, really obsessed about our work,” Sarno said.

“Anyone who’s off is off and I don’t expect them to work from home, though I do it myself,” Richard Balka said.

Balka owns The Home Rubber Company in Trenton with 47 workers. The manufacturing plant will close for the holidays to service the equipment, but 80 percent of the administrative side will stay up and running.

“There’s a fair amount of work for the administrative staff,” he said. “No matter what it always feels like a holiday period. I don’t know if it’s the extra food that sits around at the office, or the pace of things because we’re not constantly picking up telephones. There’s always a sense that it’s holiday time of year.”

Baker will miss holiday time with his wife and three children, but says he’s thankful his job allows him to provide some holiday cheer for his family.

“Being at work really doesn’t bother me because they benefit from it. So, it’s okay,” he said.