For those of use who travel a lot the results of a recent study citing that Elite Travelers tend to integrate their professional and personal lives is no surprise. That’s what we all do. When you work 60+ hours a week and spend countless more hours on airplanes, in the back of cabs, check in and out of hotels, it’s hard to determine what is work and what is leisure. By the way that’s a good question, what is leisure? This seems like a foreign concept to all of us Elite Travelers with a penchant for living and working. Basically our lives are now intertwined, we work and play at odd hours, we combine business travel with personal time and we no longer believe in that old fashioned idea of 9 to 5. That becomes especially outdated when you’re in a time zone 12 hours ahead of the office and family.
International Travelers Increasingly Blur Private and Professional Lives
Pullman, Accor’s upscale hotel brand, and research institute IPSOS, are together recently announced the results of a survey of over 2,200 seasoned international travelers*. This research highlights the increased intermingling or “blurring” of their private and professional lives, which is partly due to the fact that mobile professional devices (PCs, smartphones, tablets, etc.) are increasingly commonplace in this target group.The survey’s key findings reveal that:
– “Blurring” increases freedom and efficiency: 82% of the survey panel believe that having a mobile professional device allows them to work more freely.
– “Blurring” is perceived differently from one country to another: 83% of the Brazilian and 92% of the Chinese travelers surveyed believe these devices help their career development. However, only 56% of the French and 53% of the German travelers share this opinion.
– Non-work activities are now carried out in the workplace, there is a tacit moral agreement with the employer, but the reverse can generate feelings of remorse: 73% of the survey panel handles private activities during working hours, and eight out of ten consider this normal. However, on the other hand, one in two sometimes feels guilty about not devoting this time to loved ones when they work in private situations.
Xavier Louyot, SVP Global Marketing Pullman comments: “Our knowledge of seasoned international travelers has led us to observe various trends over the years. Our hotel offer has evolved to anticipate these changes and meet the expectations of this new generation of curious, cosmopolitan, hyper-connected travelers who travel both for business and leisure. The results of this survey confirm our vision of upscale international hospitality which is based on the “work-hard, play-hard” and reflects our customer’s lifestyle.”
“Blurring” or the advent of a new work ethic
“Blurring”, or the gradual intermingling of professional and personal activities, is a global trend that is described and acknowledged in the countries where the survey was conducted – from Australia to China, including the United States, Germany and France.
This new behavior transforms the organization of private and work lives. High-income frequent travelers are connected and can be reached at all times. As a result, they are blurring the frontiers between work and personal life.
43% of international travelers always take their mobile professional devices with them on holiday or on weekend trips. 33% of the survey panel spends at least 30 minutes a day browsing the Internet for personal reasons (reading the news, booking holidays, consulting bank accounts, and checking their Facebook page).
They also signal the emergence of work activities within the private sphere and its knock-on effect: the emergence of personal activities at work, which they consider legitimate and part of a tacit moral agreement with their employer. They consider it normal to handle private activities during their working hours quite simply because they also work when they are at home.
Some believe “blurring” has a positive impact on their private life: owning a mobile professional device enables them to stay in touch with their families (89% “agree” and 43% “agree wholeheartedly”).
Seasoned travelers welcome this new way of organizing their private and professional lives: 79% view it positively. However, one in two travelers sometimes feel remorse when not devoting this time to loved ones.
Hyper-equipped, free and efficient travelers
All across the globe, responders are categorical: 85% say that having a mobile device has changed the way they organize their professional and private lives, generally with a positive impact.
Though seasoned travelers easily recognize the negative effects of increased blurring between their private and professional lives, 82% of them also believe that having a mobile professional device allows them to work more freely and improves the way they manage their various responsibilities.
Professional devices allow them to work more efficiently (83% agree) and more productively (82% agree). “Blurring” is even considered a career accelerator by 32% of the survey population. 61% say they take at least one professional device on holiday or on weekend trips (and 43% say they always take them).
Very different attitudes in rapid growth and developed economies
The Chinese and the Brazilians are “blurring” champions and the most connected travelers. 79% and 71% respectively have at least one mobile professional device (compared with 60% in the other countries).
Attitudes towards and the integration of professional devices in people’s private lives vary according to nationality. American travelers are the most undecided. Though more than half of them consider that having a mobile professional device makes working easier, the same portion believes that it has a negative impact on their private life.
French and German travelers are the ones that blur their professional and private lives the least. They also have the most negative opinion regarding mobile professional devices. In addition, they are the least likely to handle private activities during their working hours. In short, they are the most critical of blurring the boundaries between work and private lives.
45% of the French and 44% of the Chinese consider it legitimate to use professional devices for private activities because their work also has an impact on their private life! On average, one-third of the survey sample spends at least 30 minutes a day handling private issues during working hours! Half of them consider that this time represents a pause in their working day.
Lastly, the Australians and British, like the French and Germans, are reluctant, but less assertively so, to allow their private and professional lives to overlap.
The French paradox
The French have a very negative opinion of the use of mobile professional devices. Mostly notably, 59% of them believe it to be a source of stress. As it happens, they are the least well-equipped with devices of this kind and are also those that “blur” the least. This indicates a very French preference for keeping the two spheres of their lives separate. For example, the French are the least likely to take their mobile professional devices on holiday or on weekend trips. They are also more reticent when it comes to opening their private Facebook account to business relations: 60% say they have a personal profile that is only accessible to “friends” outside their workplace. They are also the ones that spend the least time on personal activities while at work!
Even though the French are the least keen on blurring and are quicker to point out its negative effects, 76% of them consider it normal to use professional devices for private reasons, chiefly because their work also impinges on their private lives (45% say this is the case)!
Dominique Lévy-Saragossi Managing Director of Ipsos France concludes: “This survey corroborates and sheds further light on a trend we have observed in several areas. Universes that were, in theory, disconnected, are increasingly intermingled. In this case, the boundaries between professional and private worlds are increasingly blurred. However, we have a myriad other examples in daily life: the blurring of news and entertainment, of fiction and reality, or even of luxury goods and mass market products. This survey highlights the extent to which, all over the world, connected objects accompany and accelerate this move towards the dissolution of all boundaries.”
Pullman – IPSOS survey: key figures
89% of seasoned international travelers say mobile professional devices are a means of staying in touch with their loved ones.
60% of the Chinese and 45% of the Brazilians in the survey panel
browse online dating sites using their professional devices. Less than 10% of the Europeans (Germans, British and French) do so and the survey sample global average is 23%.
29% of the survey panel shops online, like the Americans.
18% of responders read or send work emails in private situations, hiding the fact that they do so from their loved ones… and 18% even do so during private lunches or dinners.
69% of the survey sample organizes holidays and weekend outings online during working hours (85% of the Chinese).
43% of the survey sample acknowledges that they work before going to their workplace.
This online survey is based on a sample of 2,252 travelers who stay at mid and upscale hotels and are aged between 25 and 65. It was carried out in seven countries: France, Germany, United Kingdom, United States, Brazil, Australia, and China. About two-thirds of responders were taken from an Ipsos access panel and one-third from Pullman’s customer data base. The survey was conducted between June 27 and August 6, 2013.