Hands up who doesn’t like going on vacation!
Exactly – no one.
Vacations to working adults are like what Christmas is to kids: the best, most magical time of the year. While kids look forward to Christmas Day and unwrapping mountains of gifts, your average worker, on the other hand, looks forward to the gift of relaxation that a much-needed, highly anticipated vacation brings.
But, that doesn’t stop people from working through their vacations. In fact, a whopping 77% of American workers said they worked on vacation in a 2014 TripAdvisor survey, 91% of which admitted to checking emails and 42% creating and editing work documents.
Working during a vacation defeats the whole purpose of taking a vacation – if you’re going to work while on holiday, what’s stopping you from sipping on piña coladas and comfortably resting your bare feet on the conference table in a potentially lucrative client meeting? A pink slip, probably.
Your vacation should be that: a vacation but, sadly, that’s not the case for many people. Technology, connectivity, and devices have become such an integral part of us and our lives that it’s almost impossible to log out, switch off, and disconnect completely.
While we might not be able to completely disconnect from our jobs, we can certainly try to, and we’ve compiled a handful of tips to help you keep your vacation from becoming a work-ation.
1. Let Everyone Know You’re on Vacation
You might not want to make everyone jealous of you and your two-week vacation to Hawaii, but letting them know that you’ll be off for two weeks will let you enjoy your time in Hawaii more. If they know you’re on vacation halfway around the world sipping on piña coladas, they’ll be less likely to bother you with all the small stuff like a misplaced document.
Moreover, remember to set an automatic out-of-office message to let customers, business contacts, and coworkers know that you’re away and won’t be able to answer their emails or take their calls for the duration of your vacation. It’s good practice to include a little note in your email signature a week or so before your planned vacation; this allows clients to sort out any important matters before you leave. Meanwhile, if you’re planning to check your emails while in Hawaii, explain in your autoreply that you won’t be able to reply right away and provide a colleague’s contact details if they require urgent assistance.
Just because you’re away on vacation doesn’t mean business comes to a sudden halt. It continues with or without you. Nevertheless, to ensure that the company’s operations run as smoothly as possible and client needs are taken care of while you’re away, you’ll need to get someone to cover for you.
Whether you choose this person yourself or your boss chooses them for you, it’s crucial that you prepare them appropriately. You could schedule a one-on-one meeting with them and talk them through the various tasks they’ll be responsible for while you’re away. You should also make it a point to give them inside info and clear instructions on how to handle certain projects and annoying clients – this will help them do a great job and eliminate any headaches upon your return. Don’t forget to inform this person (or these people) that their contact information has been included in the autoreply message you’ve set up.
Meanwhile, if you’re a manager, your trip to Hawaii could be the perfect opportunity to let your team shine and learn new skills by filling in for you. Make sure you provide them with any important files and other relevant information required to do a job well done so that they won’t have to contact you unless absolutely necessary.
3. Don’t Feel Guilty About Being Away
Sadly, many of us need to remind ourselves that vacations are necessary for our own physical health and mental wellbeing: stress levels decrease and the risk of heart disease reduces. But that’s not all: taking time off leads to greater employee retention, higher productivity, stronger workplace morale, and one study even found that it’s good for the economy. Project: Time Off reports that if every worker in the US used all of their available time off, the economy would benefit from more than $160 billion in total business sales each year and open 2.1 million new jobs.
And if you’re worried about a crisis happening while you’re lying on the beach, relax. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen, and no amount of worry will prevent one from happening. Put your trust in your colleagues and let them take care of putting out any fires while you’re away.
4. Set Aside Check-In Times
If the workaholic in you feels the temptation to check your work emails, you should allow yourself to. But there’s a catch. You can only touch base once in the morning and again in the evening. Just twice a day, and no more than that! This will allow you to relax knowing everything that’s going on back at the office, and it might just keep you from thinking about expense reports and project deadlines for the rest of your holiday and enjoy your time with your family more.
Most managers admit that they don’t check their emails while they’re away, and they don’t expect their employees to check theirs every five minutes, either. So, sit back and relax. If you really can’t resist the call of duty, dedicating 30 minutes each to catch up on emails and make a couple of phone calls should really be more than enough. Just make sure that you pick a time when the office isn’t usually swamped with large amounts of paperwork and impending deadlines.
How do you keep your vacation from becoming a work-ation? Tell us in the comments section below, and don’t forget to share this article with anyone you know who has trouble disconnecting from work while on vacation!