Work-Life BalanceJuly 1, 2013

Coping With Work-cations: When You're Not Really Ever ‘Out of Office’ By
July 1, 2013

Work-Life Balance

Coping With Work-cations: When You're Not Really Ever ‘Out of Office’

Green,Lea-PGILea Green, who telecommutes regularly, is content director, strategy and communications, for Premiere Global Services Inc. PGi has been a global leader in virtual meetings for more than 20 years. PGi’s cloud-based solutions deliver multi-point, real-time virtual collaboration using video, voice and file sharing technologies.,

Finding time for a vacation in this era of ultimate connectivity can be a challenge — we are surrounded and incessantly summoned by smartphones, laptops and tablets. In many ways, the proliferation of integrated technology has made the lives of corporate meeting planners easier and more convenient, as we now have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world. This freedom, though, is not without its price. For some, technology carries the burden that they are always connected and reachable, regardless of where they are and what time it is.

Meeting and conference planning has many moving parts. Major shifts can occur at any moment — including inopportune ones — and require quick thinking and action, even while away from the office. The pace of conducting business is faster than ever, thanks to our 24/7 connectivity. In fact, according to a 2011 study by Regus, more than 75 percent of Americans say they stay connected to the office while on vacation, and more than 66 percent regularly check email while they’re away. As a result, many vacations are transformed into a hybrid work-cation.

Regardless of the industry, it can be difficult to navigate between the responsibilities to your employer and the much-needed respite from these responsibilities. The challenge of striking a work-life balance is universal among knowledge workers; however, by asking a few questions and planning in advance, you can manage the inevitable work-related requests that will occur while you are on vacation.

Is a Work-cation Necessary?

Although working on vacation is becoming an increasingly common practice in today’s connected world, we all, eventually, need a break from the daily grind. The first question you should ask yourself before considering a work-cation is whether it is absolutely necessary to work while away from the office. A few more follow-up questions can help to determine if you actually need to boot up from the beach:
• Do you absolutely need to work while on vacation? Or can you delegate your responsibilities temporarily?
• How much work will you actually get done while working on vacation? (Remember to be realistic.)
• How will working affect your vacation time?
• How will working affect the other people on vacation with you? Finding a true balance between work and relaxation while on vacation is critical if you hope to enjoy your time off. Don’t be afraid to trust your coworkers and hand someone else the reins in your absence, assuming they have the know-how to complete the assignments while you’re away.

More than 75 percent of Americans say they stay connected to the office while on vacation.

How to Balance Work and Vacation

If you answered “yes” to the first question and absolutely need to spend at least some time working while on vacation, here are five tips to help you strike a balance and still have fun on your time off:

1. Plan your vacation. If possible, plan your vacation early and compartmentalize. Balancing the responsibility between personal time and work will always be a challenge, but by allotting a specific time to be online and available for work, you won’t spend the whole day checking your phone, wondering how things are going back at the office.

2. Get work done early. Schedule the morning hours to complete assignments or hold meetings. Then, but only if necessary, you can check in later during the day without having requests hanging over your head. Once you have finished your morning work, stop thinking about it and spend the rest of the day having fun and relaxing with family or friends.

3. Make connectivity a priority. If you will need to get online (and cellular networks won’t cut it), make doing so as easy as possible. Choose a hotel with high-speed Internet access so that you can quickly get online, complete your work and get back to your vacation time. If your hotel doesn’t provide high-speed Internet, ask the concierge for a nearby coffee shop with Wi-Fi and combine your morning “pick-me-up” with your morning productivity.

4. Set clear expectations with colleagues and clients. Be upfront with colleagues and clients well in advance of your planned time away, communicating that you will be out of town with limited availability, and be sure your automatic out-of-office email states this clearly as well. Attending some meetings may be unavoidable, so if you must participate, use a collaboration tool with integrated mobile apps that allow you to access the meeting from anywhere on your tablet or smartphone.

5. Set clear expectations with your travel companions. If you are traveling with others, let them know when you plan to “plug in” so they can plan accordingly. Communicating clear expectations with friends and family and sharing when you will (and will not) work also allows them to hold you accountable to disconnect and actually enjoy your vacation.

 Take That Vacation

As we head into the heart of the summer travel season, employees around the U.S. will pack up for some much needed rest and relaxation. And yes, the majority of these individuals will bring their mobile devices along with their beach towels so that their electronic tether to work remains intact. The question in our hyper-connected lives has now become: How will you choose to spend your work-cation? By taking a critical look at what you need to do and how to effectively compartmentalize your time, you can remain connected to the office without sacrificing your vacation, as well as continue to build connections with those who travel by your side. I&FMM

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