Do you find yourself dipping your feet in the hotel pool and simultaneously scrolling through your inbox? Or searching for that elusive bar of signal when you’re meant to be taking in the view?
Putting your out-of-office on is one thing, but switching off from work is something else entirely – regardless of whether you’re meant to be officially ‘on holiday’.
With most of us firmly attached to our smartphones is it really possible – or even desirable – to fully disconnect? Sometimes it’s just hard to let things go: maybe your summer travels coincide with a critical stage in a big project; or you spot an inevitable URGENT! in an email’s subject line. Whether self-imposed, or otherwise, you might feel an obligation to be constantly available, or at least to make sure that you’re “quickly checking in”.
Perhaps that’s why research has shown that the average UK employee only takes 62% of their holiday allowance each year. And, in fact, when people do use their annual leave, it’s often with the intention of catching up on work – a recognised trend known as Leavism.
Of course, if you’re a freelancer or you run your own business, you’re in the somewhat uncomfortable position of being on holiday with the boss. (According to IPSE, 58% of freelancers reply to work-related emails on their holiday.)
Either way, a lack of holiday or a mind-elsewhere kind of holiday can have serious drawbacks; aftersun can’t soothe professional burnout.
Holidays are good for us – personally and professionally
Taking a proper break from work is beneficial to our health and overall happiness. It can lower stress, improve mental health and boost productivity when it’s time to get back to the real world.
By contrast, a study reported in the Harvard Business Review found that blurring boundaries between work and our personal lives has a negative impact on our intrinsic motivation. As the article states: “When [people] engage in work during time that they think of as leisure time, such as the weekend, they experience conflict between their expectations and reality, and as a result, they find their work less engaging and less meaningful.”
So, how do you harness all the good that comes from holidays – without carrying any work-related guilt?
Our ‘OOO’ tips
Here are three ways to help put work out of mind while out-of-office:
Organisation: Plan well ahead of time. Decide who is responsible for what in your absence so that everyone knows what’s expected of them. Project management tools like Asana or Trello are brilliant for assigning responsibility and tracking progress, and deadlines, and therefore can give you the reassurance you need to fully relax.
Openness: Be transparent in your out-of-office and set clear boundaries. Will you be checking emails once a day? Can you be called in an emergency? Are you entirely off-grid until a certain date? And make sure you leave a point of contact for everybody who might need you , and that they are aware of their responsibility.
Outsourcing: Companies can get understaffed during holiday seasons. By having a trusted back-up team, you can make sure projects stay on track, without anyone having to miss out on a well-earned break.
At Accuracy Matters, we often act as an extension to a company’s team, providing editorial support remotely or in-house. So, if you don’t want to be worrying about words while you’re windsurfing (or whatever), get in touch to find out how we can provide cover for your editorial teams this summer.
Image from Anna Demianenko on Unsplash