- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 5, 2001

You check your office e-mail at home, on your cell phone, on the weekends and on vacation. You may have a problem. You may be an e-mail addict.

Many Americans are "addicted" to business e-mail to the point that 42 percent of them check their messages while on vacation, according to a survey by Gartner Inc., a research and advisory firm.

The survey also found that nearly a quarter, or 23 percent, of all Americans check their work e-mail on the weekends.

Gartner analysts call it the "always on" syndrome, and say the trend is blurring the line between work and leisure. For sufferers, look no further than downtown in the District, where droves of workaholics often become "e-mailaholics" as soon as they leave work.

"I'm very, very guilty," said Wayne Henninger, co-founder of Wave Public Relations in Northwest.

"It's important when I am at home or on the road to stay on top of things. The great thing about e-mail and the Internet is that you can stay in touch with anyone, anywhere," said Mr. Henninger, who also takes his laptop on vacation.

Jeffrey Richardson also admits to this addiction. The assistant account executive for Kamber Group, a public relations company in Northwest, said there are always things businesspeople have to get done while away. When he is on vacation, he usually checks his e-mail from cyber-cafes.

While some thinks it's an affliction, others say keeping up with e-mail is good business.

"I like to be available when I can be available," said Kathy Snyder, president and CEO of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce. "I am not obsessive. I am responsible."

Miss Snyder, who owns a laptop, checks her work e-mail from home one to three times every weekend. Her staff knows not to bother her with trivial things when she is on vacation, but if they need her approval on something they can contact her.

"I have the option not to look at my e-mail," Miss Snyder said.

But some find that opting to avoid work e-mail is not so easy.

It takes great discipline not to check your e-mail all the time, said Stephen Fuller, a professor of public policy at George Mason University. As people become more dependent on e-mail and constant communication, they easily become addicted.

"It makes me tired to think of it," Mr. Fuller said. "I know it's a conspiracy to make us work while we're not in the office."

Perhaps the urgency of the current economy is causing businesspeople, who may feel threatened, to become more and more attached to their businesses, Mr. Fuller said. It is particularly easy for Washingtonians, who "tend to be workaholics," to succumb to this, he said.

Marc Hausman has stopped checking his e-mail at home, or on vacation.

The founder, CEO and president of Strategic Communications Group, a public relations and marketing group in Silver Spring, said it's hard for entrepreneurs like him to leave work at work.

"When you start a company, it is always there with you," said Mr. Hausman.

But constantly checking his e-mail was starting to affect his relationship with his wife, he said.

When the couple recently moved to a new home, he did not get Internet access, to help avoid the temptation.

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