To Worliday Or Not?

In the northern hemisphere, August is vacation time and in common with the ritual of humanity at this moment I’ve been taking a few days away from the day job – first in Berlin with my youngest son and now in Cardiff with the First Lady.

The big question : what should I do about all the email?

Some of you may have seen the news : staff at Daimler were told earlier this month that all emails they receive while away from the office would be destroyed, with the sender instead being told to contact a colleague.

Interesting thought, but it would concern me if I was the sender. What if my email was important?

I was reminded by FT columnist Lucy Kellaway about the concept of a ‘worliday’ – where you do light work when away, with the result that you can allegedly take longer breaks from the office than you would be able to take otherwise.

Kellaway reminded readers that in her view there is never any excuse for emailing while on holiday; or rather, there are lots of excuses, but all are bad ones.

Like the idea you’re indispensable : but in the unlikely event you are, that’s a reason for leaving a contact number not for checking your emails.

So the dilemma was – and many of us face this – should I leave at least some of my five communicating devices (two laptops, two phones and an iPad) at home? Clearly the iPad wasn’t being separated from me, but the others stood a chance.

However, the additional dilemma then was: even having left my work emails behind, what about the IABC ones?

This was more difficult. The International Board agenda remains very full and we certainly haven’t taken the summer off. Leaders at IABC (at whatever level we are) neither get paid nor are given vacation time.

Should I put the out of office on the IABC email as well and hand everything over to the trusty Vice Chair?

But Mr Ambjorn is also carrying a heavy workload at this time, helping steer the Council of Regions and working with the Global Communications Certification Council on their operational plan for delivery at the end of the month.

In the end I’ve taken just the one laptop with me here, on a rather cloudy day in Cardiff, Wales where I’ve justified this by arguing it’s given my wife some recreation time away from me on vacation.

But am I right? What do you do on vacation with your connectivity?

2 thoughts on “To Worliday Or Not?”

  1. Russell,

    I appreciate your encouraging us to think about the “need” to be accessible and responsive even while on vacation. From my perspective, the answer is always, “Please contact * if you require a response before I return from vacation.”

    Vacations rejuvenate us, remind us that there is life to be lived away from the job, kick start our creative brains – and we earn them. I don’t know why we feel so guilty about leaving work behind for a few days or a few weeks to live life. I don’t know why the creation of mobile devices drove the notion that now that we have them, we must never go on vacation – or to the bathroom – without them.

    Well before the invention of mobile phones, I read this is a book about reducing stress: “The phone is there for your convenience.” That simple line changed the way I respond – or don’t respond – when the phone rings and I’m in the middle of something. It still holds true, even if the phone is always within reach.

    While our jobs require that we be available to drop everything when a crisis or serious issue occurs, when we’re on vacation someone else can handle things. If we haven’t developed a system or a process that allows for a vacation, that’s the real issue, isn’t it?

    Enjoy your well-earned vacation, Russell. And, I don’t expect a response to this post until you’re back from vacation!

    1. Thanks Julie (I am now back from vacation!).

      I couldn’t agree more, and also that mobile devices are big culprits. This is less a ‘work’ thing specifically I think, rather the need to always feel connected.

      I see there is backlash however – I read yesterday that in Germany they are now considering making it illegal to email someone on vacation. That could be a bit strong….. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *