For the past 10 years, I have been completely accessible during my vacations. Not only have I been accessible, I have only taken 4-5 day vacations (Thurs-Mon). In essence, a long weekend. My theory being, if I only take a few days off and if I can get some work done during the week, I won’t be so buried when I get back. And of course, there is always the standard “emergencies” that “must” be handled while away. However, this year I decided to do an experiment. First, I decided to take an ONE WEEK vacation- at one time! Also, I thought, “what would happen if I left my laptop at home and didn’t check emails? Would the company survive? Would I survive?”
According to Expedia’s Vacation Deprivation® survey, the United States is a vacation-deprived country, to begin with.
As a matter of fact, did you know that the United States is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t mandate a minimum amount of vacation by law? For real, there is absolutely zero requirement for employers to provide vacation days in the land of the free. Many companies do offer vacation days. Even still, Americans leave earned time off on the table.
In an overworked, under-vacationed society, can we really expect production levels to soar? I won’t go into statistics, but I will tell you how my experiment fared. First, you’ll be happy to know the company is still running. Here’s the interesting thing- not only did I survive, I had a great week! I returned to work calm, cool and collected. The normal things that might normally rattle me, didn’t even phase me. Second, I had a goal of being caught up by the following Monday. However, I was so ultra-productive. I went through all of my emails, prioritized all of my action items, and completed almost all of the action items by the end of the day. And third, my brain was bursting with creative solutions to problems that had been plaguing me for months. Here’s my takeaway: the gains I received by taking a real vacation and not doing work while on vacation far outweighed the stress of falling behind and fear of not being able to catch up.Tags: Employee time off, Employee well-being, Productivity, Work life balance