Work Life Balance



Work Life Balance

As the Summer Holidays are fast approaching, can we really leave our work at the office?

As a child I remember holidays with my parents where work never impeded our holiday (apart from the odd occasion of searching various towns in France for a fax machine), it was never discussed, it was a forgotten world. If issues arose at work then someone else had to deal with them, it was acknowledged that a holiday meant just that, ‘a holiday’ and your boss or colleagues just accepted that you couldn’t be contacted!

........However its just not so in the instant society we find ourselves in today. Multiple methods, such as emails, computers and cell phones enables constant contact (unless you disappear into the jungle that is!). So what is considered acceptable for both an Employer and Employee to expect when on holiday? Research suggests that employees who consider their work roles to be an important component of their identities will be more likely to apply these communication technologies to work while in their non-work domain. However do we need to just ‘switch off’ sometimes? It seems that many of us find holidays more stressful than being at work!

A holiday should be time away from the office grind that allows you to unwind. You should come back de-stressed, refreshed and re-invigorated. Ideally, at some point, around day eight, you should have completely forgotten about your job, however briefly. So, how do you learn to stop worrying and love your holidays?

  • Holiday are Important - Remind yourself that holidays really are necessary, we have them for a reason, in the same way that children have such long breaks away from school, we all need ‘down time’

  • Don’t feel guilty - your holiday entitlement is as much part of your package as your salary or your pension. Not taking holiday is exactly like taking a pay cut. Remind yourself too that good employers should want you to take holidays!

  • Prepare – ensure you complete all the work you can and delegating everything else. If you run a team, holidays can be a chance to show that you are a good boss who trusts and empowers their people. Anything you can’t delegate down to your team should be “delegated across” to your peers.

  • Contact Rules – ensure your team only contacts you if it’s of vital importance and be clear that if they can resolve issues in your absence, then they are fully empowered to do so! Plan your work carefully and hand over any critical projects or assignments. Get some perspective. You are not indispensable. While you are away, other people will cover for you, in much the same way as you cover for them.

  • How does it affect your colleagues? Constant contact can make your employees or colleagues feel as though they are unable to cope and inadequate. Emailing (or worse, calling) every day to check in makes you look needy and insecure, rather than someone who is confident that they’re doing a good job. It’s important to empower colleagues, especially if you are the manager, it’s a perfect way to see how people step-up and respond when you are not there. Sometimes they may need a break from you too!!

Not unsurprisingly it would appear that the further away you travel the least likely you are to get harassed by irate managers, so it pays to venture far afield. Holidaying in Devon, the Lake District or Cornwall means you can expect a call whereas very few bosses would disturb a holiday in New Zealand, the Caribbean or Thailand!

But it seems that us Brits don't help ourselves, with the typical holidaymaker checking their phone up to 12 times a day, mainly out of habit than necessity. In a typical two-week holiday, the average adult sends nine work-related texts or emails. Using mobile phones is such a huge part of everyday life and many of us conduct the majority of work via our phones, so it is hard to break that cycle when we are on holiday.

If you continually check in with the office, you will never fully relax and make the most of your holiday, so crack open the beer or rose and put that phone out of reach for a bit!!

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