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Most Americans may not be required to work on Thanksgiving Day, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll completely disconnect during the holidays: 59% admitted that they will check their work e-mails on Thanksgiving, Christmas and other traditional family holidays, according to a survey from Xobni, a company that makes organizational software for your e-mail system.

More than half of these people (55%) check work e-mail at least once a holiday and more than one in four (28%) actually do so multiple times a day.  As the company said in a blog post, “Aunt Betty would not be pleased.”

Of course, one of the main reasons people check their work e-mail is because they are likely to receive messages on it. Indeed, 79% of those that check stated that they have received a work-related e-mail from a colleague or client on holidays.

Another reason people gave for staying tethered to their Blackberrys was that they felt that staying up to date on e-mail will ease their workload once they return from the holiday break.  

Additionally, while 41% of respondents felt annoyed, frustrated or resentful about receiving e-mails while off, another 19% admitted they felt "thankful" or "relieved" at having the distraction during their holiday celebrations. Five percent said they use work e-mails as an excuse to avoid awkward family commitments.

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The survey was conducted by market-research firm Harris Interactive, which interviewed 2,179 adults from Nov. 5 to Nov. 9. Xobni’s latest survey follows up on another conducted in September that found 50% of working Americans e-mail while on vacation and 70% e-mail after work hours.

“We aren’t all that surprised that this many people may be sneaking a peek at their e-mail while dining with family and friends this Thursday … but we were surprised at how consistent this was across the U.S.,” Xobni said.
The company pointed out that while the East and West Coasts are traditionally considered to be the beating hearts of capitalism in the U.S., it was the southern region that topped the list of respondents saying that they check work e-mails during the holidays: 63% of southerners will monitor their messages, compared to 57% of Americans in the west and 59% in the northeast.  

The differences are not only regional, either. Employed men are significantly more likely to check work e-mail on holidays (67%, compared to just 50% of women) and while younger demographics may have been brought up with the technology that makes checking e-mails on your day off possible, it is employed middle-aged adults who feel the strongest urge to keep up to date. Sixty five percent of those ages 35-44 stated that they have checked work e-mail on holidays.

While checking your e-mails over the holidays seems to call into question our collective holiday spirit, at least those who are beholden to their BlackBerrys can use the excuse that everyone is doing it.

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