Holidays....to work or not, that is the question.
Recruitment has dropped off a cliff, it always does in August and with this being my fifth August working for myself, this is the first time I’ve ever embraced it. I don’t feel guilty about reading a bit more of my book at lunch time and I’m loving the fact that my inbox is down to nearly 50 emails. I’m working fewer hours, I’m planning my social media for the next 6 months and there is no guilt. It feels like the whole world is away and for those that aren’t, we’re all praying for the much loved sun of 2018 to return again
And as a week in the foreign sun for me is only 6.5 weeks away, I’m left with the usual dilemma of whether to fully switch off or not. And as I’m contemplating this, one client has told me that she’s on holiday the same week as me which is fab, (one less client to worry about!) and the HRD of another client is trying to get an offer on a candidate of mine all signed off before she goes on holiday tomorrow for 2 weeks. And then I’m worried if we can’t get the offer confirmed and all paperwork agreed, would she take a phone call or two while she’s away? Because we’ve been working on this role for months & months and what’s a few phone calls? But I know that she works like an absolute trooper when she’s in the office so why should she take a couple of phone calls? So, it got me thinking, should we do some kind of work while we’re on holiday or should we switch off completely?
I once worked for someone who checked his emails and replied every day at 5pm local time while he was away. He did this religiously. It usually only took half an hour and I could never understand why he did this, so I asked after he returned from one of his holidays. He said he had 2 options. 1) Not to check his emails, try to switch off but his mind would keep wondering back to work. He’d then come back to hundreds of emails, play catch up, miss out on things that had happened and feel like he was on the backfoot. Or 2) Do 30 minutes every day while the family were having a little snooze and come back refreshed. It was then that it made sense to me.
I have only every taken a week off since I’ve ran my business. During a week, most things can wait, or you can log on, send a few emails, advertise a few jobs, let people know that you’re still around but working limited hours. And last summer as I stood on the roof terrace of a gorgeous B&B in Morocco, I was struggling to get a signal, but I had promised myself I wouldn’t work for any of that week. But I’d checked my emails and I had a candidate whose nerves were getting the better of him, a client who was going away for 2 weeks when I returned so if we didn’t speak that week, it would have been nearly a month without discussing recruitment, so I put down my mojito that had a generous slosh of vodka in it and spent an hour working. Yes, I did sound relaxed, maybe it was the sunshine and sea breeze, maybe it was the fact that this wasn’t my 1st mojito of the day. And I felt better having done it. But was I wrong to go against what I’d told myself? Was I weak to give in so quickly? Or was I dedicated?
In a time where technology can be all consuming, I don’t think we ever switch off from checking emails, messages, social media so if we’re checking things for our personal use, do we then automatically check for our work as well? Or should we do a social media detox altogether? A few years ago, I went to Australia to visit my Dad for 3 weeks and after 3 days I got a few emails from friends panicking that they’d not heard that I’d arrived OK. I was on holiday, I’d not seen my Dad for 2 years, I was sat by the pool, enjoying BBQ’s and chilled white wine. Had I set a precedent that I was always on social media? But if I had, I’d never clearly stated that I don’t do social media when I’m away. I am switched off from that as well as house work! Maybe it’s the stingy northerner in me but I NEVER reply to text messages, too expensive and I’m not telling people while I’m away that I’m having a great time, that’s what postcards are for! But that was before I owned by own business and knew that someone else would be picking up the important stuff. Also 3 weeks…..people have to cover your work whereas for a week, anyone can blag putting something off for a week!
And does the level responsibility affect your decision to work on holiday or not? If you have more responsibility day to day and consequently have a higher salary, should you be expected to be on standby? Or the higher the responsibility, do you have people you can delegate to, so you can switch off? Or should we all simply push back at employers, clients, customers and say, “I’m on holiday and will get back to you when I return.” Is the expectation too high in a world where people expect everything in an instant? Do we need to be braver and say no?
So, will I be taking my laptop with me next month? Absolutely not. Will I be taking my work phone with me that has access to my OneDrive and emails? Mmmmmmmmm I think I will. But I will only be talking to clients, and candidates who are in a process already. And if people don’t understand that I’m out of the office for a week then tough. We all work so hard the rest of the year, and it’s one week, and its recruitment. This is not life threatening stuff. What if you can’t get hold of someone for 5 working days? If voicemails and out of offices say you’re out of the business, then you’re out of the business. What’s the worst that can happen? I’m willing to take that chance and find out, as I sip a few cheeky cocktails in the sunshine.
Tel: 0115 972 6513