Business Owners Confess to Checking E-mail While Driving, Using Bathroom

One in five small-business owners work 80 hours or more per week, and two-thirds work more than the standard 40-hour workweek, which has resulted in a variety of multitasking, according to a new survey.

In a telephone poll sponsored by office-supply giant Staples, 300 leaders of companies with fewer than 20 employees largely expressed difficulty in finding a balance between work and personal time. Nearly half (47 percent) of respondents said they work during time meant for family, and one in five (21 percent) said they work while eating dinner at least four to five times a week.

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"The results from this survey reflect what we regularly hear from our small-business customers, who say a lack of time is a constant challenge," John Giusti, vice president of Staples Business Delivery, said in a statement.

The survey suggests that entrepreneurs cope with the lack of time by working whenever and wherever they can. Forty-nine percent of respondents said they make business calls and check e-mail while driving, and 18 percent admit they read work-related e-mail and documents while in the bathroom.

Two-thirds of managers said they work after hours and at night, and another 68 percent check e-mail and make work-related calls during their days off. Thirty-seven percent of respondents could not readily remember their last vacation, while 51 percent said they work on holidays.

When asked to describe their workload, 92 percent of respondents said it was about the same or heavier than it was a year ago. Nine percent of small-business owners indicated that their heavy workload is a result of business growth, but seven percent said it was a result of "trying to keep up."

Generally, leaders of younger companies and those with fewer employees displayed the largest work-life imbalance.

"Time is a critical resource for companies of all sizes," Giusti said, "but it's of even greater importance to small-business managers, who possess a larger stake in their company's success and often lack the support infrastructure of bigger businesses."

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