SCORE Small Business Blog

To Unplug or Not to Unplug: That is the Question

When you and your employees go on vacation, do you really go on vacation, or are you still working? While it’s nearly impossible for small business owners to disconnect from their businesses entirely, even employees find it tough to unplug on vacation these days, reports a new survey of more than 1,000 U.S. employees from Pertino.

More than half (59 percent) of employees say they regularly check email, take phone calls and do other work-related activities on vacation, and 36 percent say they do so at least once a day. But far from stressing them out, constant connectivity has the opposite effect. Nearly half (47 percent) of survey respondents say they’re less stressed on vacation because they can stay connected to the office. In fact, the survey found being disconnected can actually lead to more anxiety, not less.

But for business owners, employees’ constant connectivity has both good and bad sides. Since a whopping 77 percent of employees can’t access their company networks while on vacation, many of them cobble together various ways of getting the files. About one-third admit they’ve taken their work computers along on vacation, while a similar percentage use unsecure cloud file-sharing services. Employees also use their personal computers (52 percent), smartphones (51 percent) and tablets (30 percent). This means employees could be putting your business’s data at risk.

To protect your business from data loss, Pertino recommends these steps:

  • Make sure employees can access the apps, files and resources they need from a secure cloud storage service so that they won’t have to resort to unsecure options or USB drives that can be lost or stolen.
  • If employees do take company computers, tablets or smartphones with them on their vacations, make sure they use common sense, such as not leaving them out in plain sight, not leaving them unattended and storing them in the hotel safe when not in use. (How often do you read about secure data being breached because an employee’s laptop was stolen from a car?)
  • Watch out for public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are convenient, but risky—criminals can access them to hack into your employees’ passwords and your company’s data. Remind employees to make sure they use a network that provides authentication and encryption.
  • Encourage employees to get the R&R they need. It’s great that employees can stay plugged in on vacation, but encourage them to cut the cord (or the Wi-Fi) at least a little bit. For example, by setting a designated time every day to check email and voice mail for any emergencies, then enjoying the rest of their day, your team will come back refreshed—not frustrated by feeling that they didn’t get time off.

(And keep in mind, if you’re lucky enough to take a vacation this summer, that these tips apply to you, too.)

Need help creating a tech security policy? The experts at SCORE can advise you—just visit to get matched with a mentor and get the assistance you need.

Rieva LesonskyCEO, GrowBiz Media
Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. | @rieva | More from Rieva

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