Surprise! Deep down, we actually like the 24/7/365 work environment.

It’s a common gripe you hear among business professionals: The proliferation of laptop computers and mobile communication devices has contributed to a “24/7/365” work culture, making it more difficult than ever to disengage from the office and putting bigger stresses on work-life balance.

The irony, people claim, is that laptops, PDAs and other equipment which promise to improve productivity and make daily work tasks easier, have actually created more work and resulted in longer hours devoted to the job. And you can’t escape it — at home, on vacation, or wherever you are.

But now, along comes a research study that gives the lie to these assertions. Manpower firm Kelly Services has just released the results of a massive worldwide survey of ~100,000 people in the workplace. Among the survey’s findings: Three-fourths of respondents appreciate the opportunity to remain in constant contact with work – even though one-third of them report working more hours each week as a result.

And among the North American survey respondents, 64% say they’re happy with their current work-life balance, and more than half claim their productivity at work is “much better” as a result of utilizing the new technologies.

So how do we explain the difference between all the negative “cocktail chatter” we hear … and the far more positive survey responses provided when no one’s looking?

It might be because people tend to exaggerate negative opinions – especially when surrounded by spouses and friends who are more than eager to lend moral support – all the while murmuring protestations of disapproval about the “big, bad organization.”

But I think the reason for the incongruity is more basic. On a theoretical level, most of us want to preserve the boundaries between our work life and our personal life. It just seems like it’s the correct position to take on the issue. But another part of us feels a need to stay connected … to be continually “in the know” and not miss a beat — even for an hour.

Moreover, in today’s challenging employment environment, being hyper-connected and super-clued in with the company is more crucial than ever, for self-preservation if for no other reason.

Besides, when it comes to being in control, most people just like that feeling — a lot.