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Small Business Managers Reveal Startling Work Hours and Habits
Staples Survey Offers Insights into Work-Life Conflicts
FRAMINGHAM, Mass., Jan 08, 2007 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Almost half of U.S. small business managers work during time meant for family and admit to making business calls and checking e-mail while driving, according to a national survey exposing the unusual lengths taken by today's workers to manage increasingly 24/7 jobs. Conducted on behalf of Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLS), the telephone poll explored the balance between work and personal time for 300 leaders of companies with fewer than 20 employees, a group representing nearly 90 percent of all U.S. businesses, according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). Overall, respondents reported long hours, diminished vacation and an ever-blurring line separating work from time-off.

"Time is a critical resource for companies of all sizes, 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," said John Giusti, vice president of Staples Business Delivery, a division of Staples that delivers to small businesses. "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."

The survey revealed some startling work habits, such as nearly one in five managers (18 percent) admit to reading work-related e-mail and documents while in the bathroom and nearly half (49 percent) work while driving.

For most of the managers surveyed, the standard 40-hour work week does not apply. Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) work well beyond a 40-hour week, and one in five (21 percent) work a double week, logging an extra 40 or more on-the-job hours. Participants cited business growth (9 percent) added responsibility (7 percent) and "trying to keep up" (5 percent) for their heavy workloads. Some managers have compensated for these increased work demands by letting work trespass into once-sacred personal time. For instance:

-- One in five (21 percent) work while eating dinner at least 4-5 times per week;

-- More than a third (37 percent) could not readily remember their last vacation. Of those who did vacation, nearly half admit to working during some portion of it.

Additionally, the pervasiveness of mobile phones and hand-held e-mail devices has only contributed to these long hours at untraditional times.

-- More than two-thirds (68 percent) work on days off, checking e-mail, voicemail or making work-related calls;

-- Two-thirds (66 percent) work after hours and at night;

-- Half (51 percent) work on holidays;

-- And almost half (47 percent) work during what is supposed to be family time.

Generally, surveyed leaders of younger companies and those with fewer employees expressed the most lopsided work-life balance, and the vast majority (92 percent) characterized their workload as about the same or heavier than from a year ago.

"Companies wishing to serve small businesses must recognize their critical need for time," said Giusti. "At Staples, we work hard to make it easy for our small business customers, providing a central resource for office products and services, so our customers can focus their time on running their businesses."

How Staples Makes Things Easy

Recognizing the importance of time for its small business customers, Staples strives to serve as a central resource, providing a host of products and services to help increase workplace productivity. Staples' services range from custom printing--including business cards, letterhead, forms and promotional items--to technology consultation to free office space configuration. Online tools at such as "Easy Reorder" and "Favorite Lists" allow customers to quickly order frequently-used supplies by accessing previous orders and tagging preferred items for future reference. Staples' "InkDrop" program enables customers to easily receive new printer cartridges by simply mailing back used cartridges in pre-paid envelopes. Another service, "Easy Rebates," lets customers easily apply for rebates online. For more information on products and services, visit

About the Survey

The survey was developed by Staples and conducted by International Communications Research (ICR) in Media, Pa. ICR surveyed by telephone a random sample of 300 owners and executives of American businesses having no more than 20 employees. The respondents included 133 establishments with 1-2 employees; 71 with 3-5; and 71 with 6-20. This breakout roughly mimics the proportional distribution of employees according to national statistics, such as those recorded by the NFIB Small Business Policy Guide. Interviews were conducted from Dec. 6, 2006 to Dec. 12, 2006. Such a sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.7 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

About Staples

Staples, Inc. invented the office superstore concept in 1986 and today is the world's largest office products company. With 69,000 talented associates, the company is committed to making it easy to buy a wide range of office products, including supplies, technology, furniture, and business services. With 2005 sales of $16.1 billion, Staples serves consumers and businesses ranging from home-based businesses to Fortune 500 companies in 21 countries throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia. Headquartered outside of Boston, Staples operates more than 1,800 office superstores and also serves its customers through mail order catalog, e-commerce and contract businesses. More information is available at

SOURCE: Staples, Inc.

For Staples, Inc.
Sarah Francomano, 617-937-2580
Owen Davis, 508-253-8468