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Why you shouldn't completely unplug on vacation

Sharon Florentine | April 6, 2016
You owe it to yourself to think twice before completely disconnecting from the office on your next vacation.

Ah, vacation! Time to set up your "out of office" notification, shut down your computer, turn off your phone and forget about work -- or, maybe not. You've seen lots of articles explaining how you can disconnect while on holiday, but some people share a different view.

Not staying connected to the office while on vacation can set you up for a much more stressful return, and can even impact the waning days of your time off if you're dreading the thought of coming back to an overflowing email inbox, projects that may have gone off the rails and a full voicemail box. So. how can you best balance staying on top of your professional life while squeezing every ounce of enjoyment out of your (well-deserved) time off? The trick is to maintain a balance of both, 24/7/365, even if that means checking email on vacation, says Dan Lee, director, NextDesk.

A study from last year on workplace flexibility by Workplace Trends, a research and advisory membership for HR professionals, shows a disconnect between what employers and employees expect, in regards to work-life balance. "67 percent of employers feel workers have work-life balance, 45 percent of employees disagree." So what is the right answer?

You've got mail

Though you may be tempted to completely disconnect while out of the office, don't, says Lee. "Ignoring emails will only lead to more stress by setting you up to return to a flooded inbox and longer to-do list. Take a few minutes a day and go through your email and messages and respond to any that are urgent -- I'm an early riser, so I do this in the morning before everyone else is awake," he says.

It's a new way of thinking about the traditional concept of work-life balance, says Alexander Kjerulf, founder and chief happiness officer of management consultancy Woohoo. and author on topics relating to happiness at work. Kjerulf believes "work-life balance," as it's traditionally defined, doesn't actually exist anymore.

"Traditionally, we see work and life as competing activities fighting for our time. There's work and then there's 'free time,' implying that work is not free. And the term balance implies that more work automatically means less life. But where I take issue with that, is we only have one life -- we just happen to live some of it while working and some of it engaged in other activities," Kjerulf says.

Always on

The evolution of global, knowledge-driven businesses has diminished geographical boundaries and made time zones irrelevant, says Ajay Kaul, managing partner at AgreeYa Solutions, a software, solutions and services provider. Consumers expect 24/7/365 service and support, and most enterprises use mobility and remote work capabilities to enable a more connected, always-on and engaged workforce, Kaul says.


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