Are You Going To Unplug This Holiday Season?

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If you, like me, live in this Great Southern Land or even if you don’t, are you looking to spend time away from work over the festive season relaxing with family and friends, maybe head to the beach or take in the cricket in all its summer forms?

Two weeks out from the Christmas/New Year break I have a question. Will you stay plugged in to your business devices, be that laptop, tablet or phone, or will you be able to resist the temptation to log on?

You are probably saying to yourself “of course I will!” or maybe it will be “Are you kidding I have to be plugged in”. Here are a few “reasonable” reasons I have heard this week that suggests many of us won’t be able to unplug.

  • My company expects me to be available for clients
  • My manager told us in our final team huddle for the year we have to run harder and faster than our competitors which means I need to be available or we lose
  • My customers don’t give it any consideration they just expect me to be available
  • If I don’t check emails and messages while I’m away I’ll come back to a full inbox

My perspective is that the odds are stacked against you staying unplugged[1]. A staggering almost 8 in 10 people say they are more comfortable taking time off if they know they can access work.  Almost half reported that they check in with work occasionally during holidays while smaller numbers of people, just over 1 in 4, are logging on frequently.

If the business you are leading is reflective of the above, or worse, then you need to STOP AND THINK. This is a sad indictment on the culture within your business, particularly if the managers in your business are perpetuating this type of behaviour. It is beyond doubt that one of the single biggest influences on your culture is the leader at the top – what you do and the way you behave is amplified through the business.

So what can you do if you want to remain unplugged and actually enjoy your holiday break?

  • Create a holiday policy and procedure that is right for your organisation and ensure leaders lead by example.   Remember, your people walk what you walk not what you talk.
  • Prepare:
    • Look at your inbox and message set up so emails can be forwarded to colleagues who are working through the holiday
    • Indicate to colleagues the courses of action you want taken on priority issues
    • Be clear what actions are to be enacted should an emergency arise
    • Be clear with your clients about the dates you will be away and what has been put in place to ensure their needs are met in your absence
    • Let your clients know you will not be checking email or messages etc.
    • If there are essential decisions to be made when you are away give the appropriate person authority to make the decision if required
  • Set the rules for when you are away
    • If you are going to log in, when will you check emails while you are away e.g. once a day in the morning or evening? Whatever you decide stick to it
    • Should you decide you have to check your emails put them in temporary files such as:
      • Forward to
      • Read on return
      • Action on return
      • Delete
    • Ensure you have an appropriate Out of Office message in place that meets your needs. There are number of sites[2] that offer free messages from which to choose and will allow tailoring of your own message, or you could do what one person I am aware of did which was to leave a very pointed out of office message “I am taking a 10 day break and if you need to contact me please email me at (name)

It is ten days until we break for the Christmas/New Year Festivities, so you have time to put this into action.

You have applied yourself throughout this year and you deserve this break, a point worth remembering.

One last point, if you are still not yet convinced about the value of unplugging – a number of sources suggest that if people unplug over the holiday break, between 60 and 65% report they are more relaxed and motivated on their return to work.

Will you unplug?

 Viventé Australia enables leaders and managers develop the bond between people and performance, creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its best.