Jul 02 2012

Working on vacation… is it worth it?

zderwzvu_thumb Working on vacation… is it worth it?

In corporate America, or just incorporate business environments, there’s always that discussion about the workers taking vacations and although those people take vacations, they are still on the job. They’re still checking e-mails, there still checking voicemails, making phone calls or attending meetings when they should be sitting on the beach enjoying their free time; free time they have earned.

Over the past two years I have found that my personal experience with taking time off is a double-edged sword. Although I earn time off for each pay period, I find that if I take time off, more than just a day or so, the penalty for coming back to work is typically worse than taking the time off. For me, the concept of taking time off is the equivalent of deciding whether or not I want a root canal…

Normally, when I take vacation, I make the decision to make a mental break, to use a computer as little as possible, to stay away from Internet as much as possible and try not to speak or talk about work in any way; this helps me keep the proverbial light switch off in regards to anything having to do with work, but on the same token I realized that doing that in the past, it’s really hard to come back to work with so many pending requests, so many unanswered e-mails and so many people waiting to get responses. It’s like the largest jigsaw puzzle in the world and you have to figure it out as quickly as possible…

I recently took a week off for vacation, but this time, I chose the option to at least check my e-mails in the morning every day…

I have to admit that by checking my e-mails once a day, it helped keep me apprised of current issues, what was going on, who was involved and what the current statuses were. These are all things that I would normally have to figure out when I came back to work, but because I was checking my e-mails on a daily basis, my return to work wasn’t nearly as bad as I remembered with other vacations, or taking time off.

I feel like that my vacation was somewhat tainted by me taking just a few minutes a day to login to work, check my e-mails, reply to one or two and simply keep abreast of current topics. And my goal wasn’t to be too involved with internal issues while I was on vacation, but more to just simply keep me in the loop on ongoing issues, and new issues.

Now in preparation for my vacation, I did take a lot of steps to make sure that I had no pending meetings, no tasks, projects; I made sure everything was cleared out as much as possible. I also use Microsoft Outlook to schedule e-mails to clients at specific times. I have to admit that using Microsoft Outlook to schedule e-mails to clients can be very beneficial, especially when I’m going to be out of the office; it also works as a good reminder if you need to get back to the client on a specific time.

When corporations give their employees corporate phones, to me, it’s like issuing a dog leash. when a corporation issues of corporate phone, that corporation, or management, expects that employee you have that phone on them at all times. I think that’s a huge pressure placed on someone; and its undue..

Some companies expect employees to respond to all e-mails within X amount time. Some companies expect employees to respond to e-mails at all hours of the day and even when they’re on vacation. Companies that do this, I don’t think they have a firm grip on how to fully appreciate their employees and respect their private lives. I’m not saying that this happens with me, but there’s plenty of articles and references on the Internet that do this… but some companies in Brazil are going to start seeing impacts from situations like this because now Brazil has a law against such actions.

So again, I tried to clear out my schedule is much as possible, and I tried to reduce my interaction with my work environment as much as possible while I was on vacation. I kept arguing with myself about whether or not I should be checking my e-mails, or if I should be involved this much with my work at the same time I should be trying to relax. I made the decision that any situation that would involve more than just a few words, or just quick interaction, but I would simply defer that e-mail or topic until I returned to the office…

I have to admit that I am a victim of being consumed sometimes with the job that I do, but I have to admit that by me taking a little bit effort during my vacation time to simply look at my e-mails and try to keep track of some simple stuff, and avoiding all the heavy lifting, this made my experience of returning to work a lot easier. I found that my workload was not as heavy, trying to figure out the complex puzzles of what the statuses are were not nearly as daunting. It was a little bit easier to return to the daily processes… but I feel kind of guilty in that respect that I robbed myself, just a little bit, of a full-blown vacation…

I’m starting to understand now why travel agents are getting more and more requests for locations who don’t have cell phone service or Internet service…

So maybe next time, when you decide to take vacation; think about an alternate contacts, scheduling your e-mails, scheduling any tasks and maybe just check your e-mails once a day if you dread coming back to work… just don’t be ‘on call’ while you’re on vacation. Schedule yourself just a few minutes daily to be on the job… and then go back to playing…

I hope this helps…


Thank you,
Larry Henry Jr.

…via Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11

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  • Charles S.

    What I sometimes do, with the owners approval, is book 1 extra vacation day ( at least in the eyes of customer and even coworkers ). I am officially "on the clock", so I get paid for that extra day, but what it does is give me 8 paid hours to catch up with little to no interruptions.

    The the other item is that I have two email addresses: 1 for work, 1 for personal. I try to only check the work email during work hours, whereas the other email I check 19 hours a day. When I am on vacation, I setup an auto-responder on the work email saying I am away for the week + that one extra day. I also make sure I add various other contact emails and phone numbers of other that might be able to help in my absence. There's nothing worse than taking a week off work and coming back and having a weeks worth of work built up!

    I agree 100% with the "dog leash" comment. I've never had, nor wanted, a cell phone, however many years ago it became obvious I needed it for work purposes. Now, with "smart" phones and a 1 hour commute to work and another hour back, I find I have become a distracted driver at times as well as a volunteer for my employer. Time that isn't available during the work day to discuss certain matters with my boss all the sudden appears "available" in their mind as I drive. The conversation is 95% work related, yet its not time I am getting paid for. The obvious thing would be to shut the phone off, but then I am not being "available" for problem/emergencies, as I should be. Its a difficult issue to deal with. Owners/Bosses need to stop taking advantage of the 24 hour "leash". Although its a baby step, I've at least programmed my phone to turn off between 11pm and 7am each night, as realistically, I am not paid to be "on call". If a true emergency existed, they have my land line phone number and they can call that (but little do they know, I almost never answer it) 🙂

    • Thanks Charles, that's good information.. and thanks for sharing.
      As soon as I leave work, I don't discuss work and I don't take calls from work; work is for work. And as a safety thing, I don't talk on my phone while I drive, period. I had a close call one time; that's all I needed as a wake up 'call'.

      Again, thanks for your comments…


      My recent post Smartphones on vacation… very useful.

  • Edward

    I don't find it useful at all. Companies don't care if you don't use your vacation credits. So spend your vacation during the summer, forget about the company. click here to learn about vacation credits on why you have the right to go on vacation.