February 18th, 2015 / Insight posted in

Is there such thing as a true break from work, even when on holiday?

By Adam Flight As we enter the holiday season are employees truly taking time off from work even when they are abroad? With the access to work emails now being more easily available on either work or personal mobile devices, a culture of uncertainty has developed about whether we should always be in touch with what is going on at work which has now made it even harder to break the connection from work, even when on holiday. Digital devices should mean being able to be more flexible, by allowing employees to be able to leave work a bit early for some family reason or other and then pick up their emails or tasks again later in the evening. But in fact, it’s actually doing the opposite by extending a person’s already long working hours meaning less time to actually have a break, rest and a recharge our batteries. Is this work ethic also having an influence on the younger generation to always be connected to a mobile device, do we realise the consequences of our actions on the young and impressionable? Organisations need to be clear and give guidance to their employees about what is expected from their staff both out-of-hours and on holidays. To support this, managers should also be discouraged from putting pressure on their teams by sending all-hours emails in an expectation that it results in a response. They should just save the message and send it first thing the following day. Employees generally have to give twice as much notice to their employer as the length of the holiday they are requesting. However, don’t forget that it works both ways and that managers can also give the same notice to an employee if they feel am employee needs to take a break from work. Breaks, weekends, holidays, are all an important part of the mental breathing space needed to be effective at work. At the end of the day, being ‘always connected’ needs to be a personal choice, not something that happens to all of us by accident or something we feel forced into, either intentionally or not by the organisation.