Do You Work While on Vacation? You Should

Gene Marks

If you’re not working when you’re on vacation, you’re in the minority. Most people do.

That’s according to a 2018 study from staffing service Accountemps. The survey asked more than 2,800 employees at companies around the U.S. about their vacation and work habits, and their responses indicate how attitudes about time off have changed.

For example, back in 2016, 59% of respondents to a similar survey said they never check in while on vacation. But, in this year’s survey, more than half (56%) say they do check in with the office while they’re away. Even more interesting is that 70% of younger workers — those aged 18 to 34 — say they maintain “some contact with work” during their vacations, as opposed to only 39% of those aged 55 years and older. “Lazy millennials?” I think not.

What about you? Do you work when you’re on vacation? I hope you do.

That’s because running a business means you’re never completely on vacation. You’re trusting others with your livelihood. Your business always needs attention. Your employees always need answers. Your customers don’t care that you’re on vacation. Your competitors love it when you’re away.

Many of my clients argue that they need to “completely” get away from the office when they go on vacation. I get it. I’m sure there are plenty of studies that have shown the value that fully unplugging has on one’s mental and physical health (Editor’s note: There are several). I’m impressed by people who can take time off for weeks and never check in with the office. These are smarter, more fully developed people. They enjoy fine wine and good music. They appreciate that life is made for living and not working. These people have lived past lives. They are old souls.

Nope, not me. I’m no renaissance man. I’m just a small business owner. When I travel, I have my smartphone locked and loaded. I never leave an out-of-the-office message. I don’t unplug. I don’t disengage.

“Some workers enjoy greater peace of mind when they allow themselves to check in a few times — but not much more than that — while on vacation,” an executive director from Accountemps said. “Doing so confirms that all is well, which allows them to stop worrying and focus on relaxing instead.”

It is exactly that for me: peace of mind.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t take vacations and enjoy them. I do and I do. It’s just that I can be on vacation and still keep an eye on the very thing that’s paying for the vacation: my business. When I’m on vacation, I’m not working anywhere near the level that I normally do. I’m checking emails just to make sure there are no fires, and I’m only responding to a very select few. I have people who can handle most of our issues. And you know what? I kind of enjoy taking an hour out of the day in a relaxing spot by the pool or in a nice hotel lobby and reengaging with my business by making a call or two, or cleaning out my inbox. I find it kind of therapeutic.

Yes, that may sound insane to some. But not to me. And clearly not to a majority of workers nowadays. The Accountemps study isn’t saying that these workers are spending their holidays on conference calls or writing contracts. What it’s saying is that times have changed, technology has changed, attitudes have changed, and the majority of people care enough about their jobs, their businesses, and their livelihoods to stay in touch with the office, even when they’re away. It’s not about loyalty or dedication. It’s about responsibility.

2 Responses to "Do You Work While on Vacation? You Should"

    • Charles W. Jones, MBA | September 20, 2018 at 2:34 pm

      Gene, I totally agree this method took me from a 1 person operation out of my spare bedroom to over 100 employees in 6 states. My last vacation was a business trip, we won a new contract in HI!

      • Hannah Sullivan | September 20, 2018 at 2:53 pm

        Congrats, Charles! Thanks for your feedback.

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