Should your next holiday include a digital detox?

Why the digital detox could become a regular part of professional life

April 5, 2017

Digital Detox

More than half of today’s professionals consider that a break from work isn’t a break from work unless it’s also a break from digital technology. And interestingly, it’s the generation we most associate with being constantly connected that’s leading the charge towards making a regular digital detox part of professional life. Those are the findings of new research from LinkedIn that shows a growing demand for switching off from connected devices.

We asked LinkedIn members whether they would consider a tech-free digital detox as part of their holidays, and found that 52% would do so. In fact, only just over a third (37%) insisted that they wouldn’t want to switch off from technology when taking a break. Considering how much of our personal as well as professional lives now revolve around digital technology, that’s a surprisingly strong statement: no social media, no on-demand streaming video or TV shows, no digital music, no regularly checking your favourite news sites.

We found a clear distinction between generations when it comes to their attitude to the digital detox – and that distinction doesn't conform to most research stereotypes. Rather than griping that their holidays would feel less fulfilling without digital content and services constantly available, millennials (and particularly young millennials) have the greatest appetite for turning them off. The concept of a digital detox is most popular amongst professionals aged 18 to 24, 59% of whom said they’d consider it. This dips only slightly (to 58%) amongst those aged 25-34. Interestingly, those most reluctant to give up digital technology when taking a break are much older: only just over a third (36%) of those aged 65 and over said that they would consider it. Only 45% of those aged 55-64 are open to the digital detox.

We found some significant gender differences in attitudes towards digital detox as well: 57% of women were up for tuning out, whilst only 49% of men were. This seems to confirm a stereotype about the male love of gadgets, even when relaxing. However, it’s the generational differences that stand out the most. Why are professionals approaching retirement so much less open to digital detox than those with their working lives ahead of them?

Could it be a case of familiarity breeding ambivalence – if you’re constantly accessing digital content and entertainment then a break from it makes for a more fundamental escape from the everyday? Or could it be that we find it increasingly difficult to separate connectivity from productivity? As a result, accessing digital technology feels like work even when it isn’t.

We may also be seeing a new development in attitudes to the work-life balance, something PwC research shows millennials valuing more than financial reward. If these professionals don’t expect their employers to respect personal time off, then they may feel that a well-timed digital detox is the surest way to enforce respect for that work-life balance.

Scroll down to explore the digital detox findings in full in our Infographic: