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?

We Spend More Time Surfing Than Sleeping

Last week Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, revealed in its communications market report that the British spend more time glued to screens than they do sleeping.

The average adult Briton spends eight hours 41 minutes looking at a screen (over eleven hours if you count double use like tweeting while watching TV ). Few of us meanwhile manage more than six hours kip a night.

Ofcom paints a picture of a UK obsessed with consuming media in all formats, and in particular on smartphones and tablets, though TV viewing has now dropped below four hours a day.

Although these are UK figures, I doubt they’d be much different in most of the connected world – and many of us working in communications probably well exceed these figures.

Demands of clients and a 24 hour media mean we literally sleep with our smartphones, eat with Twitter, and never go to see clients without laptop. And the phone? My own voicemail actually converts my messages to text as well just to pack in some more screen time. I never actually ‘listen’ to a voicemail.

And of course my iPad never leaves my side. If you email me it’s more than likely your reply is composed on it. (Incidentally thanks to all of you who have taken the opporunity to email me directly at chair@iabc.com – I try and respond within a couple of days max.)

But August in the northern hemisphere means vacation time. So next week I’m leaving one of my two smartphones in the drawer; cutting back on the tweeting and locking away the laptop. (Leaving the iPad behind is just too much of a wrench…….).

Finally, whether you’re on vacation or not, a reminder that August 22nd is the deadline if you want to apply to be on the new IABC Ethics Committee.

We’re taking a more transparent approach to this, important, Committee. Any member in good standing can apply and there’s then a selection process. The form is here.

And if you’ve also still to go on vacation, have a good one!

Pushing The B In IABC

One of the challenges of leading a global organisation, let alone of communicators, is how to connect with members in a meaningful way.

After a bit of deliberation I’ve started a regular blog to supplement my tweeting. My intention is to blog fortnightly and to publish every other Monday. Let’s see.

Comments welcome (of course). Incidentally, not enough of you are following me on Twitter yet @RussellAtIABC.

No-one has the time these days to read long pieces of prose so I promise to keep the thing short.

So…..since becoming Chair in June, I’ve been considering how best to use the year.   IABC runs a ‘continuity’ leadership process at its International Level; in many other places also. You get elected, in a slightly long-winded process, to a three year commitment: as Vice Chair, Chair and Past Chair.

I call this ‘a year learning, a year doing and a year teaching’. It advocates continuity and collaboration – because you influence the visions of those you follow, and vice versa – and we get genuine synchronisation from year to year.

So in June 2013, I started to look at IABC’s forward strategy to run from this year to 2017.   I formed a group to look at ideas, and in total we involved about 60 people in the process. Next year’s Chair, Michael Ambjorn, also got heavily involved.

We met online, in person and over the phone. Gradually those ideas became concrete and they were signed off by the Board last month.

We’ve come up with a model which basically says that while IABC needs to continue developing value for members by offering relevant knowledge and learning, it must also branch out : to offer services to business, and to increase its impact in both business and the communications profession.

This recognises two things. Firstly, after the Global Financial Crisis especially, communications is even more of a force for competitive advantage in business and organisations generally.

And secondly, as IABC is the only global communications association with ‘business’ in its name, we should make that work more for us.

If we get it right, this will bring a new, strong, steady and sustainable source of income to IABC which we can then use to subsidise member activity and deliver greater member value.

We’re about to start market research on the detail of this idea. If you would like to know more, and especially if you’re commercially minded and could contribute to the development of this idea, please email me at chair@iabc.com

Video, Update 3

Last week, the IABC Executive Committee and IABC senior staff met at IABC Headquarters in San Francisco to discuss strategy, priorities and focus areas for the remainder of 2014 and into 2015 and beyond. It was an extremely productive session and was a great opportunity for both the executive committee and IABC staff to work with our new Executive Director, Carlos Fulcher.

Carlos and I got together to share what the workshop entailed and some of what we have planned for the future.

IABC Chair’s Update No 3 – July 2014 from Russell Grossman ABC on Vimeo.

The official blog of the Chair of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)