My husband gets furious when I bring my laptop on our Hawaiian vacations, but I enjoy vacations more if I remain connected. I run a small business, and like to stay on top of things and let my employees know I’m there for them. Part of the issue is that I love my work and my husband hates his job. If I have my laptop with me, I can check in with the office, hear that everything’s running smoothly, and then enjoy the day. If I do some work while on vacation during the noon hour when it’s too sunny to be outside, I feel productive, and everything is easier when I return to Anchorage. I love walking on the beach, but I’m not interested in deep-sea fishing or parasailing and can sometimes get bored. Having my laptop handy allows me to do things like explore professional websites I wouldn’t have the time to investigate during jam-packed work days.
I hate being called a workaholic or being made to feel guilty. I thought maybe if you wrote something, I could hand it to my husband.
You’re not alone.
The reality: employees work on vacations.
A 2021 survey, https://www.myperfectresume.com/career-center/careers/basics/work-junkies, revealed 82 percent of employees work on vacation and nearly 90 percent of employees check work messages and emails while on vacation. According to another survey 20 percent of those who admitted working on vacations said they did so because they loved their jobs, https://www.gobankingrates.com/money/jobs/addicted-to-work-82-percent-americans-admit-working-on-vacation/ and an additional 37 percent noted they wanted to say on top of things and felt it made their post-vacation return not so overwhelming because of work that had piled up. Half of U.S. employees take their laptops with them on vacation, 41 percent frequently joined Zoom calls, and 63 percent put their cell phone numbers on their out-of-the-office work emails,, https://www.expedia.com/stories/2022-vacation-deprivation-report-how-to-unplug-from-work-when-on-vacation/.
Your husband, in fact, is in the minority. An online Harris poll, https://www.ceridian.com/blog/ceridian-harris-poll-remote-work-vacation, revealed only 41 percent of U.S. respondents leave their work at home while on vacation. When 20,297 professionals were asked in 2022 whether they unplug from work while on vacation, 54 percent said no, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/07/12/54percent-of-people-cant-disconnect-from-work-on-vacation-heres-why.html. Yet another 2022 survey revealed that 37 percent of employees checked in with their office multiple times daily and an additional 26 percent checked in at least once daily, https://www.kornferry.com/about-us/press/cutting-it-short.
This “work while on vacations” increased during the pandemic, when millions learned they could work remotely. In a 2022 survey, https://www.kornferry.com/about-us/press/cutting-it-short, 58 percent of those surveyed reported that being away on vacation stressed them more than it had in past years, with the primary reasons being “too much work to do due to decreases in staff” (47%) or “the work won’t be done well when I’m away” (35%). The remaining 18 percent of employees noted that concerns over layoffs and a potential recession spoiled their vacations. According to https://passport-photo.online/blog/smartphone-use-on-vacation-study/, 68% of employees use their smartphones for work while traveling, with 60 percent of employees noting that their boss expected them to check in while away.
How to detach for a work-free vacation
If you’d like to detach for a work-free vacation, build yourself an off-ramp.
Do everything you can ahead of time, enabling you to leave with all major projects “buttoned-up.” Give your employees, clients and others advance warning so they can prepare for your lack of availability. Divvy up all your responsibilities and let those who handle emails and call know what might warrant disrupting your vacation. Set up an “out of the office” email auto-response, that lists who emailers can reach out to for assistance.
Turn off your phone notifications, because once you get on the phone, it’s easy to find yourself sucked into a vortex of messages and notifications. Plan a “catch-up day” for your first day back. Most importantly, think of what you miss when you can’t “switch off”—carefree days with your husband.
Finally, there’s an easy fix your husband might like to explore. Could he find a job he enjoys? Perhaps start his own small business?
(c) 2023 Lynne Curry
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