Will Email and Social Media Ruin Your Post-COVID Vacation?

With or Without Your Cell phone
With or Without?

Be honest. Were you constantly checking your company email and social media accounts this resent holiday weekend?

The summer vacation season “officially” started with the Memorial Day holiday in the U.S. although it is likely to look very different in these post-pandemic days. Since the advent of the Internet, most of us find that we’re tethered to our smart phones because business colleagues and clients expect that we’ll be available 24/7, even when on vacation or PTO (Paid Time Off).

We all know we need a break from work to refresh ourselves whether we’ve been working from at-home or in the office. Harvard calls this predictable time off. In a study of consultants at Boston Consulting Group, Harvard researchers learned that productivity improved when consultants were literally forced to forego checking email or voice mail while they were on vacation.

Most experts agree we need uninterrupted time off to recharge, but how do we do that without leaving clients in the lurch or throwing off a production schedule? How will your vacation be different in the emerging post-COVID-19 days? What will be the “new normal” vacation?

It Takes Planning

Plan your vacation during a slow period at work, if you have one.

Avoid Stress Post-COVID
Avoid Stress

If you don’t, try to complete projects before you leave. Arrange for a colleague at work to serve as your backstop to service your internal and external clients.

Let people know you’re going on vacation to spend time with your family, and that you won’t be available. If it’s impossible to disengage from work entirely, then schedule time to read your emails and check your social media accounts.

Be strict and promise yourself, “I will look at emails between 9 and 10 in the morning and again from 4 to 5 in the afternoon.” Then don’t pick up your device in your down time. Turn off your smart phone so you won’t be tempted to take a peek.

Tell your office and clients that you won’t give them the quick turnaround they expect when you’re in the office. You’ll get back to them as soon as possible. Don’t disappoint your spouse and kids by cancelling a day of sailing because a client wants to chat smack in the middle of the morning.

Reduce Your Stress

More than one study discloses that vacations can actually cause stress. This happens when you don’t make advance plans and the details of the trip aren’t worked out.

The further away from home you go, the lower the stress, according to a Twitter study. Maybe that’s because the long arm of your office can’t reach you, or people don’t expect to be receiving a phone call from you every morning if you’re vacationing in Borneo.

Talk about reducing stress, one agency owner put his firm on a year long sabbatical! Simon Cohen gave his employees at Global Tolerance the flexibility to take off a year.

As he said in response to a comment in his Harvard Business Review article, “We negotiated ways, over several months, in which staff could follow their personal and professional passions, set up as freelancers (in a couple of cases) and work with one or two of our clients (again, in a couple of cases) — so everyone had means of supporting themselves financially, while enjoying the benefits of being on sabbatical.”

Cohn enjoyed his sabbatical so much that he is stepping down from his firm after 10 years and seeking a replacement as described in this video on his website:

You’re Dispensable

Most of us like to think that no one can do our job as well as we can. How can we leave the office for even a long weekend without something going wrong? But that’s a wrongheaded view. If Global Tolerance can shut down for a year, you can go away on a brief vacation.

Charles de Gaulle is credited with saying, “The cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable men.” The business won’t close if you take a short break. When you return you’ll find it’s still there but you will feel more refreshed and ready to take on the world.

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  1. Thanks for your article. When so many people carry their “office” in their purse or pocket it can get tricky. It takes some discipline to leave the electronics alone. I appreciate your suggestions and hope you had a fabulous Memorial Day weekend!

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