Ensuring workers are happy, productive and clear-minded has become a hot-topic of conversation in HR circles. Some companies encourage employees to take "workcations," which are designed to create a relaxing work environment and allow a worker a chance to be productive while also enjoying a scenic locale.
In addition, and in contrast, many employees take traditional vacations with their own accrued time off, yet can't fully, or even in-part, disconnect from work. Managing a proper vacation when using personal time off and maximizing the benefits of a "workcation," when allowable, could yield success and productivity.
Finding Solace in the Sand is Not Easy for Some
When it comes to top C-Suite executives, staying away from work while on vacation is not the norm. According to an article from Crain's Detroit, a survey showed fully 68% of CFO’s check into work while away on summer vacations. The independent survey was conducted with input from more than 2,200 CFOs in 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas.
Further, the expectation that CFO’s will be able to make a “clean break” from office communications while on vacation dropped from 51% in 2012 to 32% today. Robin Ankton, regional vice president of Robert Half Management Resources in Detroit, said the results of the survey are not surprising.
“… With the changes in the economy, I think people are prone to stay in touch more than three years ago just because of the pace of business,” she said. Ankton pointed out, though, often times those seeking information can make do with the resources and personnel available and can find answers on their own.
Lastly, it may be prudent for top-level managers to set a precedent by actively leaving work in the office while on vacation. This way, employees do not feel pressured to work while away on vacation.
A New Arrangement May Take the Edge Off
Alternately, when possible, some employers and employees have worked out an arrangement similar to a vacation, but primarily focused on taking care of business. The “workcation,” as it is labeled in an article from The Wall Street Journal, is designed to augment traditional time-off by allowing for destination-style off-site work.
The article states that since 2000, workers are taking almost five less vacations days a year. In 2013, the average worker took 16 days off, down from almost 21 at the turn of the millennium. Working from relaxing locales, where one could spend off-hours with their family and enjoy beaches or theme parks, could help make the rigors of an aggressive work schedule more manageable. However, some researchers warn that an overreliance on those arrangements can still result in worker burnout if there is no actual time off in between.
The article goes on to point out there are still myriad views about how much can be accomplished on these trips, if they are truly productive and the impact of not taking enough traditional vacations time.
Some Advice for the Employee Who Can’t Unplug
So while the debate rages about what is the best way to mix work and play, it may be helpful for some to find strategies to cope with the reality that they may, in fact, have to work while on a traditional vacation. Fast Company offers a list of suggestions aimed at setting reasonable limits of what’s fair and foul when it comes to working while away.
Finding someone who might be able to answer questions while you’re away could go a long way. It is also recommended to check in at a fixed times, if you must, but do not constantly answering work-related emails, which may set a bad precedent. Also, make note of good ideas while relaxing, but be sure to flesh them out when you are back at work.