Americans work an extra day a week in overtime

American workers are increasingly tied to work after hours, due in large part to the rise of office-linked smartphones. (Nelson Ching / Bloomberg / July 3, 2012)

Chances are, during Wednesday’s holiday, you’ll still be working.

Even off the clock, when the country’s laborers are supposed to be kicking back, catching up with the family and watching some TV, a new study concludes that 80% of them are putting in voluntary overtime.

Outside of the office, 80% of Americans still continue to work, according to enterprise mobility company Good Technology, which surveyed 1,000 U.S. workers. On average, they put in an extra hour per day – stacking up to about an additional day of work each week.

So much for the work-life balance.

During the recession, fearful for their jobs, American employees tried to prove their commitment by turning down family leave, paid sick days and telecommuting options.

And as iPhones, BlackBerrys and other smartphones become more ubiquitous, their role in work and play is increasingly muddled.

Now, the average worker starts checking emails in bed at 7:09 a.m. By 8 a.m., nearly seven in 10 workers have gone through their messages.

After 10 p.m., 40% are still going through missives from the office; seven in 10 say it’s a necessary step before going to sleep.

On vacation? More than half of Americans keep tabs on their emails at family outings; 38% do it at the dinner table.

Half of workers who put in overtime say they feel like they have “no choice” but to do it, especially because their customers demand rapid responses to business queries. Roughly the same number say that being so plugged in to the office doesn’t upset their partner.

But fixating on work after hours doesn’t guarantee more output, according to GlobalEdge, a research unit of Michigan State University.

When employees work more than 40 hours a week, research shows that their productivity slumps significantly. Though the U.S. has no minimum for vacation days and Europeans are notorious for their extended sojourns, workers across the pond are more productive per hour.

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