So, it’s the day after the Fourth of July. My colleague, Teresa Thompson, is on “vacation” (i.e., she’s technically on vacation, but in reality is working remotely), and I’m about to head out on vacation next week. This got me thinking about how difficult it can be to actually “get away” in today’s 24/7 work environment. Our smartphones, tablets, and other devices keep us connected to work at all times, so how do you actually take a break? I know I’m not the only one asking this question.
Does this sound familiar to you? “Afraid of what might happen if he were out of touch too long, Mr. Oakley, president of Charles Aris, a Greensboro, N.C., executive search firm, said he would spend most of his vacation time on the phone or at a computer, squeezing in ‘pockets of relaxation’ when he could. The result: ‘I tried to do both things at once — work and be on vacation — and ended up doing both poorly,’ he said. He returned home feeling more stress than when he left.”
If that quote sounds eerily similar to your own life, then take a look at this small business guide to taking a vacation that I just ran across in the New York Times. I found it interesting because in many ways, rather than relying heavily on technology, social media, or any of the other ways in which we try to stay connected, the guide emphasizes good old-fashioned planning and preparation.
Want to go on vacation and actually relax? According to the New York Times article, start planning a month or two ahead of time. Seriously. Make sure clients or customers know you’re going to be gone (and remind them before you leave), let them know who will help them in your absence, etc. And, work in advance with your colleagues and subordinates to make sure they can cover for you.
Notice that none of the advice is, bring your iPhone on vacation and check your emails obsessively.
To me, this article is part of a trend of people reacting to the stresses of a 24/7 work environment by trying to carve out a little space and alone time. See, for example, our post about people who are making the decision to opt-out of Facebook to regain a modicum of privacy. (Ready to Dump Facebook?) I think this shows a maturation and evolution in how we interact with technology and social media. The novelty of being constantly connected and able to check on work has worn thin for many people, so they’re working proactively to come up with ways to find balance. Being proactive and finding balance – not a bad idea to make those a priority.
We hope all our readers can make use of this guide and enjoy some well-deserved time off this summer. Just don’t unplug so much that you stop reading our blog!
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Teresa is the Chair of Fredrikson’s Non-Competes and Trade Secrets Group, and an MSBA Certified Labor and Employment Law Specialist. She counsels business clients on risk management and policy development relating to employee use of technology, and also litigates their business and employment disputes. Teresa trains, writes and lectures extensively on legal issues arising from business use of technology and social media.