Vacation Reading For Those Who Can’t Leave the Office Behind

It’s summertime and that means you’re headed off on vacation, where you’ll forget about the office and turn off your work phone, right?

Well, probably not – especially if you’re like any of the 1,600 managers Harvard professor Lesli Perlow interviewed for her new book, “Sleeping With Your Smartphone.” Perlow found that 26 percent of her sample group took their phones to bed with them. Given that information, you won’t be surprised to know that 48 percent copped to checking their work phones on weekends and 51 percent admitted to sneaking peeks while on vacation.

“Our lives are about being either on, or on call,” Perlow told MIT Technology Review.1 “What is work these days? How do you define it? Is it work when you’re at the beach thinking you have to check your email?”

If you are one of those people for whom a lounge chair and umbrella is merely an office with a better view, you’re probably not going to spend much vacation time engrossed in escapist beach reading. In fact, odds are you’re surreptitiously answering emails and reading work communications when you think your family members aren’t looking.

If you’re among those who prefer the latest news about benefits and health care reform to the latest Stephen King or Danielle Steel novel, here are links to benefits-related sites, studies and articles that will keep you from feeling guilty about taking time off. Even better, you can access them surreptitiously on your laptop or tablet, so your fellow vacationers won’t roll their eyes about your workaholic reading habits.

  • The Kaiser Foundation2 is an outstanding resource for unbiased information on numerous health care-related topics, including Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, health care costs and health care reform.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention3 provides a wealth of articles, both on specific groups – travelers, men’s health, seniors, life stages, etc. – as well as on topics such as workplace safety and health; injury, violence and safety; data and statistics and emergency preparedness.
  • The New York Times is a resource for the latest news and information, specifically its “Your Money Guides – Health Insurance”4 section. Recent articles and multimedia presentations focused on the so-called “Cadillac Tax” affecting high-end health plans, the rising cost of long-term health care, variances in hospital billings and regional differences in cost and care.
  • The Brookings Institute5, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C., provides a wealth of information about issues affecting our nation. Recent articles under its “Health” section focused on organizational and political challenges to implementing health care reform, person-centered health care, and whether smartphones can be used to advance health care.
  • Pew Research6 describes itself as a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. Recent articles focused on the contraception coverage mandate and the unpopularity of Medicare voucher plans. Other topics of Pew’s focus include social trends, media and news, and U.S. politics.
  • The Employee Benefit Research Institute7 provides information on a wide array of benefits issues. Recent health care-related articles focused on trends in coverage for part-time workers, the effect of consumer-driven health care on outpatient visits and prescription drugs, and trends in withdrawals from IRAs.
  • The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans publishes a monthly magazine8 featuring topics of interest to employers of all sizes. The July issue, available only to paid members of the organization, featured articles about lump-sum pension plans, preparation for health-care exchanges, 2013 HIPAA changes and fund transparency.
  • The 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report9, based on interviews with employers and employees throughout the nation, provides free insight into opinions and attitudes about health care issues from workers at all levels. You can check out the executive summary, fact sheets and press release, as well as get insights on topics such as the uphill road to consumer-driven health care, the hidden rewards of voluntary benefits and how benefits plans can be used as a competitive edge for attaining and retaining top talent.
  • The National Safety Council10 is the place to go for information about safety at work, at home and on the road. Under the safety at work section, you’ll have access to employee perception studies, emergency preparedness information, leadership and safety training.

You may be one of the lucky folks who can completely forget about what’s happening back at the office as soon as you slap on some sunscreen. But if you’re like so many Americans who simply can’t shut down their work computers and their smartphones – or if you simply enjoy reading about health care issues – this list should serve you well through your vacation and beyond.

1MIT Technology Review, “Is Mobile Computing Good for Productivity?”- accessed June 11, 2013 -
2The Kaiser Foundation, accessed June 11, 2013 -
3The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed June 11, 2013 -
4The New York Times, “Your Money Guides – Health Insurance, accessed June 11, 2013 -
5The Brookings Institute, accessed June 12, 2013 -
6Pew Research, accessed June 12, 2013 -
7The Employee Benefit Research Institute, accessed June 12, 2013 -
8The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, “Benefit Magazine,” accessed June 11, 2013 -
9The 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report, accessed June 12, 2013 -
10The National Safety Council, accessed June 12, 2013 -