Over the years, technology has made us more connected than ever to others, with innovations such as social media, email, and cell phones. But, it has been proven recently, this connected world is not always a good thing, especially for those on vacation.
American-based company ELVTR announced a number of startling numbers, in a recent study of American and Canadian workers. Of the 2,300 North American workers involved in the study, 68 percent admitted to working while they were on vacation and 46 percent admitted to struggling to switch off from work while they were on vacation. Their bosses asked eighteen per cent of these workers to check their emails while on vacation, and 57 per cent said they would feel anxious if they did not check their emails while on vacation. Sixty-one per cent admitted their colleagues send them texts and emails and contact them via phone during their vacation.
I'll admit I was guilty of checking my work emails, once, while I was on vacation last week. This was because it was just part of my regular routine and is usually quite easy to do on my cellphone. I was not asked to do this by anyone; it was just a routine action. However, I quickly realized this was not the best course of action for me and did not touch or look at my email inbox for the rest of my vacation.
The purpose of a vacation is to give employees time to recharge and get away from the stresses of their workplace. But, logging into work emails while on vacation creates guilt, in regards to leaving things unanswered or unresolved. Getting updates from colleagues on the current situation at work, or having to resolve a problem for your colleagues takes you mentally right back to the office again.
This technology issue was the reason the Ontario government drafted and passed new legislation, to give workers the right to detach themselves from work activities after the end of the workday. This included the right not to answer emails, telephone calls, and video calls after completing their workday. Vacations should be a benefit to both employees and bosses. For employees, it allows them downtime, to catch up on sleep, enjoy the summer weather, and maybe travel to new places. On the bosses' side of things, vacations keep employees from burning out and ensure the employee is putting out the best work they can because ofbeing refreshed.
So, here are my proposed solutions for everyone.
Employees, make a conscious effort to make the most of your downtime, by not reading emails while on vacation. Make sure you send an out-of-office email notification, to let clients know you are on vacation. Coworkers, let your colleagues enjoy their vacation and only contact them about work-related issues if it is absolutely necessary. Bosses, put a policy in place at your workplace to protect your employees from having to work while on vacation, and please let your employees have a work-free vacation.
Personally, I'm feeling re-energized after my first week of vacation, and I'm looking forward to telling the community's stories once again.