Can you unplug when you go on holiday?

Been planning a holiday for a few months? Saving up? Looking forward to it and perhaps buying new clothes and holiday things?

Most of us look forward to our hols and think of it as a time to relax and re-charge our batteries; spending quality time with family and friends, enjoying ourselves, discovering new places and making happy memories. So that when we return to work, we are energised and raring to go! 

So, why do so many of us take our work away with us? It’s probably fair to say, that most of us would rather not take our work but somehow we feel pressured to do so. Who’s putting on the pressure? 

A BBC article (10.08.2019) states that recent research conducted by UK cyber-security firm Tessian, found that more than half of UK employees feel there is an expectation within their organisation to reply to emails quickly. Six out of 10 employees use their mobile phones to send emails during out-of-office hours. They spoke to 1000 employees in companies that employ at least 100 staff, showing that this is a regular occurring issue. 

This evidence is further followed up by a Glassdoor Annual Leave survey (2018) who found that 23 percent of holiday makers regularly checked emails, and 15 percent continued working through fear of getting behind and the consequences of not hitting their targets. It has been shared with me, that people are afraid of being judged by not being available to their colleagues and seniors. There does seem to be self-imposed perception that “all of our colleagues are doing it, so we need to too”.

Whilst our multimedia communication systems are amazing and we couldn’t live without them (or so we tell ourselves) looking at the statistics above, it feels that we need to shake up our views about what a holiday means to us.

What would happen if we didn’t take our laptop or work mobile with us? Digital detox. 

 “Break free of your devices and go on a digital detox”.

 Sounds intriguing? Or perhaps a bit scary or daunting?

 So, what’s a digital detox? It’s a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers (Oxford Dictionary). So, giving you an opportunity to really switch off and stop, and if not stop, then pause. A valuable stretch of time, when you officially don’t have to think about work.

 But how do we detox?

  •  Decide what can be left until you return from your annual leave.

  • Set your “out of office” with your return date and contact details of an alternative person to contact in your absence.

  • Don't make yourself to reachable, let it be known that you aren’t taking the laptop with you.

  • Practice telling yourself that you are NOT going to take work with you.

  • Be truthful with yourself, if you know that you will do some work, set realistic limits.

  • Remind yourself that this is your holiday, you are entitled to take leave.

  • Build in some holiday activities.

If you are holidaying with others, consider sharing with them what your digital detox plans are - they may well join you!

Holidays matter. They are important. Some would say that they are our lifeline to sanity, a chance to step away from everyday life and reconnect with the people we love; a time to relax, to be the real us, or indeed to be whoever we want to be. And once the sand has been washed from the toes, the warmth of the sun beginning to fade, holidays can leave us with a suitcase of life-long happy memories.

Surely then, it’s a win-win situation? Both employer and employees benefit.

So, what will you be doing this August Bank Holiday and has work been invited too?