Just as with contacting people at home at night, there used to be a rule against contacting people except in cases of dire emergency, when they were on vacation. This might have stemmed from the difficulty of actually contacting people when they were away from the office and home but more than this, it was a matter of respect for the employee that you didn’t bother people when they were on vacation. This is just common sense in that people won’t bother others as they themselves don’t want to be bothered. That rule is completely out the window now. While people are not sending emails deliberately to absent employees, people are answering them nonetheless.
In the last week I have spoken with maybe half a dozen people about their email habits while on vacation. Each and every one of them has been keeping an eye out for email while on vacation. This is not so much a matter of having to answer them all but as a means of protection for when returning to work. Each of these people agreed that is was easier to spend an hour or so a day monitoring email and answering certain ones than it was in being swamped when getting back to work.
Another factor at work here is the ubiquitous BlackBerry and IPhone. In years past, before the advent of the smart phone, it was possible to separate work from home because your email was separated from your phone. With the introduction of merged devices, having one means having the other. Typically, something like a Blackberry is used for work email as well as home email. The device is also the user’s cell phone and is used for both personal and work related calls. Having two devises, one for work and the other for home is just not cost effective so the merger of work and home on the one device means that you can never leave work as at the same time, you would be leaving all of your personal traffic behind as well.