70% of those who were surveyed say they check work emails or other communication channels when on a personal holiday.
The majority (43%) of those surveyed said they check their emails everyday while on holiday.
More than a quarter of those surveyed who said they worked on holiday did it to stay on top of their workload.
Going away on holiday usually means taking time off work.
But with an increasing reliance on technology and the rise of flexible working arrangements, it’s becoming more common for people to continue to work even if they’re away, on personal leave or enjoying a public holiday.
To help us understand the work and holiday habits of everyday Australians, we surveyed 922 Australians 18+ through Pure Profile and compared those findings to the results from the same Budget Direct survey conducted in 2018 to gauge what trends might have emerged in five years.
Hours Worked Statistics
Working habits have changed dramatically for Australians since the pandemic first hit in early 2020.
With ongoing lockdowns, many offices had to rely heavily on technology as working from home became the preference during lockdowns.
Amid the peak of the pandemic in August 2021, more than 40% of surveyed Australians regularly worked from home while 36% had an agreement to work flexible hours. 
Despite the change, Australians now seem to be working more than they were before the pandemic with the Australian Bureau of Statistics recording an 8.4% increase in the number of hours worked from March 2020 to February 2023. 
However, the research also found the proportion of people taking annual leave has now returned to pre-pandemic levels. 
International travel is also up significantly since the peak of the pandemic with overseas departures from Australia increasing from 99,500 in June 2021 to more than 1.3 million in January 2023. 
When looking at the rise in annual leave as well as the amount of overseas travel compared to the rise in hours worked, it’s time to explore how many Australians now work while they’re on holiday.
Working on Holidays Survey Results^
Do you check your work email or any other communication channels (e.g. chat) when you're on personal holiday?
Across the board, 69.6% of Australians who were surveyed said they checked their work emails or other communication channels while they were on a personal holiday.
There was no difference between the holiday habits of men and women with 70% of both genders surveyed saying they checked their work emails when on holiday.
This is up substantially from the results of the 2018 survey where just 53.4% of women and 51.4% of men surveyed said they check work emails while on holiday.
Meanwhile, younger participants aged 18 to 37 were more likely to check their work emails during a holiday (73.4%) compared to 60.4% of the older participants aged 58 to 67.
How often do you check your work email or any other communication channels (e.g. chat) when you're on personal holiday?
The majority of those who responded to the survey (43%) said they checked their work emails on every day of their holiday.
This was up from the 2018 survey where 31.9% of participants said they check everyday.
Women who were surveyed were more likely to check their emails only once, twice or three times during their holiday while almost half of all men surveyed who said they checked their emails on holiday said they did it everyday.
Younger demographics were less connected on holidays with a quarter of participants aged 18 to 27 saying they check their work emails everyday compared to more than half (58.3%) of those aged 58 to 67.
Meanwhile, the Western Australians surveyed were the most likely out of all states and territories to check emails regularly on holiday with more than half (51%) saying it was a daily event.
Have you ever deleted your access to work emails off your phone before or while on holiday?
Almost 70% of those surveyed said they’d never deleted access to their work emails off their phone before heading on holiday or while they were on holiday.
Compared to five years ago, more participants deleted access to their work email or thought about deleting it with 15.7% of respondents saying they’d considered it, which is up from 10.6% in 2018.
Those participants aged 68 to 77 were the least likely to delete access to their work emails off their phone with just 6% saying they’d done it before or during holidays.
Meanwhile, one in five of those surveyed aged 18 to 27 said they’d thought about deleting work emails from their phone.
Has your manager or colleague ever called, emailed or texted you while on holiday?
Almost two-thirds of those surveyed said a colleague or a manager had called, emailed or texted them while they were on holiday.
Employees surveyed in Tasmania and Queensland were the most likely states to be contacted by their colleagues or managers while on holiday with 76.2% and 65.5% respectively, saying it’s happened to them in the past.
Meanwhile, 69.1% of those surveyed aged 28 to 37 said they’d been contacted by colleagues or managers while they were on holiday, which was the largest percentage of all the age groups that participated.
What was the call, email or text for?
More than half (56.3%) of those surveyed who were contacted by work while on holiday said their manager or colleague was calling to ask a question.
After that, the most common reasons participants were contacted by work while on holiday were due to someone asking about a specific project or task and an emergency or problem cropping up.
The women surveyed were more likely to be contacted to answer a question than men were with 65.9% of women compared to 44.1% of men.
Meanwhile, respondents aged 18 to 27 were the most likely to be contacted by their work to be asked a question with 64.6% saying this was the most common reason.
On your last personal holiday, did you connect with your office (manager or colleague) at some point?
More than a third of those surveyed (38.9%) said they had connected with their office while on a personal holiday.
This was down slightly from the survey conducted in 2018 where the results found 40.2% of participants said they had contacted their office while on holiday.
The women surveyed were more likely to get in contact with their office while on holiday with 40.8% saying they’d done so, compared to 36.6% of men surveyed.
Meanwhile, participants in Western Australia were the least likely to connect with their office while on holidays (32.5%) compared to respondents in Tasmania and South Australia where around 42% in each state said they had.
Do you ever work when you're on a personal holiday or supposed to take time off work?
The majority of those who were surveyed (56.3%) said they had never worked on a personal holiday or while they were supposed to take time off.
This is up from the results gathered in 2018, where just over half (52.1%) of participants said they had never worked while on holiday.
Respondents aged 28 to 37 and those aged 68 to 77 were the most likely to work while on holiday with around 47% of each age group saying they’d done so.
Meanwhile, more Queenslander and Tasmanian participants than any other state or territory (48% and 47.6%) said they worked while on holiday or personal leave.
Why do you work when you're on leave?
The majority of those who were surveyed (42.2%) said working on holiday was usually circumstantial and just happened to sort something out that needed their attention.
The second most common reason respondents were working on holiday was to stay on top of their workload with 26.8% saying this was the main reason.
Only 5.7% of those surveyed said they worked on holiday because they enjoyed it.
In the 48 to 57 age range, 15.7% of participants said they only worked on holiday because they couldn’t rely on their team or colleagues to get something done.
^Due to how the figures are rounded within the survey data, numbers may not add up to exactly 100%.
More Australians check work emails while on holiday than before the pandemic
Almost 70% of those who were surveyed said they check their work emails while on a personal holiday, which is up from the same survey conducted in 2018 where just 52.4% said they did.
This seems to fall in line with the habits of other countries based on results from a United States study which found 66% of workers said they were still available to work even when they had time off. 
Younger respondents from 18 to 37 were more likely to check in with work compared to the older respondents from 58 to 67.
The majority of respondents check their emails everyday of their holiday
More than 40% of those surveyed who said they checked their work emails, said they checked them everyday while they were away.
Participants aged 68 to 77 were the most likely to check their work emails everyday on holiday with 77.8% admitting to doing so.
More than a quarter of people who work while on holiday do it to stay on top of their workload
More than a quarter of those surveyed who said they worked while on holiday said they did it to stay on top of their workload.
Meanwhile, only 5.7% of participants said they did it because they enjoyed their work.