The peak holiday season may be over for another year but for many freelancers and micro-business owners it will have passed them by completely.
A new poll has revealed that 5% will not take any time off at all this year, while one in nine (11%) will take a week or less.
Even when they do go away, the proliferation of electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, together with the roll-out of wi-fi, has made it easier for business owners to continue working when they go on holiday.
More than 90% of micro-business owners admit to checking work-related emails or doing work-related admin while they are taking “time off” – with nearly two thirds (61%) saying that they do so “regularly”.
The figures emerged in a survey of nearly 600 freelancers and micro-businesses by the Edinburgh-based cloud accounting company FreeAgent about their experiences of self-employment.
It revealed that 38% of respondents said they work more than 48 hours in a typical week, while 7% said that they typically work 64 hours or more per week.
However, FreeAgent believes that freelancers and micro-business owners are actually becoming increasingly adept at dealing with the challenges of self-employment.
It highlights the prevalence of ‘work-ations’ – where people spend some of their holiday time to keeping on top of their business admin – as a key reason for micro-business owners being able to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent, said: “It’s often tough for small business owners to take holidays and get some proper downtime, as many feel they’ll either be abandoning their work or that their business won’t be able to cope if they take a break.
“But by not taking time off, they also risk their health as they’re not able to properly recharge their batteries.
“The positive news, however, is that we seem to be seeing a shift in how micro-business owners view their holiday time. The greater availability of reliable wifi and 4G networks mean that it’s easier than ever to manage business tasks on the go – even when you’re overseas – and this is leading to more people taking ‘work-ations’ where combine their holiday with work-related tasks that they can do in the hotel, at a cafe or even on the beach.
“That’s a really positive development for micro-business owners. Rather than risking burn-out by staying tethered to their home office or business premises, they’re able to take a holiday and relax but also keep an eye on their business, manage important admin and respond to any emergencies.”
How much holiday time off do you expect to take from your business during 2018?
3-4 weeks 34%
1-2 weeks 28%
5-6 weeks 17%
More than 6 weeks 10%
Less than a week 6%
I don’t plan to take any holidays from my business this year 5%
Do you check work-related emails or do work-related admin when you’re on holiday/taking time off from work?
Yes, regularly 61%
Yes, sometimes 31%
I don’t take any time off from my work 1%
How many hours do you personally work in your business during a typical week?
32-48 hours 44%
48-64 hours 31%
16-32 hours 13%
More than 64 hours 7%
0-16 hours 5%
Figures, unless otherwise stated, are from FreeAgent. Total sample size for this question was 594 owners of UK micro-businesses with fewer than 10 employees. The survey was carried out online between 6 April – 24 May 2018.