Swipe To The Right (And Power-Off)

By David Mizne

Summer is in full swing. The weather is warm and you are just a flight away from the powder-like sand and gentle waves of a tropical paradise. But before you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on that dream vacation ask yourself, Am I really ready to step away from my desk for an entire week?

Many managers, executives, and employees take their work with them while on vacation. If your body is out of the office but your face is buried in your inbox, the rejuvenating effects of down-time are completely negated.

The name of the game is total immersion. Leaving the work world behind for days at a time releases stress and refreshes your creativity. For managers and executives at small startups or even large corporations, going off the grid often involves more fear than relief. Here’s how to fully let go and feel confident that there will still be a business to return to.

To power-off, push the little button on the corner

As of 2013, there were 7 billion mobile devices on the planet. By the end of this year, they will likely outnumber us humans. With the relatively new capability to stay connected, many people are feeling compelled to work during a time when they should be relaxing or strengthening their personal relationships with family and friends.

The first step is to admit that you have a problem. The second step is to shut off your phone for just one day. Checking email (or facebook for that matter) is like playing slot machines. You are receiving a pleasurable hit of dopamine and then mindlessly repeat the behavior. Do something fun as soon as you arrive at your destination and by the first evening you will remember that there are infinite ways to experience pleasure without having to tweet about it.

If you are not sure that you can resist the temptation, why not let someone else handle it for you? At Camp Grounded in Anderson Valley, California you can “trade in your computer, cell phone, Instagrams, clocks, schedules and work-jargon for an off-the-grid weekend of pure unadulterated fun.”

Redundancy, redundancy

According to Human Resource Executive Online, when employees at any level stay connected while on vacation, the potential for burnout is high. It is a huge contributing factor to the poor employee engagement epidemic.

Even when people are encouraged to use all of their vacation time, 70% choose to work rather than taking time off. Many employees are concerned that emails and other work will simply pile-up in their absence. Thoughts of the impending mountain of work that awaits will begin eating into relaxation time before the vacationer even returns.

There are two easy solutions to this conundrum. For smaller companies, you can bake in a ramp-up day when people return to the office, so that they can take care of their inbox and other issues before delving into new initiatives. For larger companies, building some redundancy into different teams ensures that those who remain at work while colleagues are on vacation can competently assume their duties during that time.

We have a finite amount of energy, and if it is not managed properly irreparable burnout can occur. It’s better to cover for someone for a week or two than to replace an A-player who gets no release from months of accumulated stress.

Taking a break is not abandoning ship

Ok, so managers and employees need to be covered so they can get the most out of their time away from the desk. But what about executives? There isn’t much redundancy there. By hiring the right people you can set yourself up for success and healthy downtime:

– Hire people who are capable enough to collectively steer the ship while the captain sleeps.

– Only step away when the seas are calm and land is in sight. Let go of the wheel for a little while. You have an entire crew to consider and if you burnout, you could all be permanently lost at sea.

Those executives who can allow management to handle issues that may arise in their absence, can create the space to take the business to the next level. Employees, managers, and directors often get to exercise skills and abilities during the absence of decision-makers that they would ordinarily abdicate to their superiors.

So not only do you get a few days off, you get a golden opportunity to see how your team takes charge while you’re gone.

Can’t stop, won’t stop

Most entrepreneurs are fast-paced, creative people who truly enjoy growing their business from the ground up. For some, the thought of just laying there in the sun is horrific. If that’s you, don’t feel compelled to rest in the traditional sense. You can explore a new city, do something physically challenging, learn a new skill or hobby, or return to nature.

You can remain as active as you are normally, just immerse yourself in different activities than you normally do. Think of it  as a “hack-day” for your soul. You are planning, strategizing, and staying physically and mentally active, but you are getting much needed space away from your desk. That distance will give you perspective, and that perspective will allow you to creatively problem solve and grow your business when you return to it.

Keep a finger on the pulse

If you absolutely must know what’s happening in your company, do what adventurous entrepreneurs have been doing for years, and regularly ask your employees for feedback.

This can be done face to face, via email, or using just about any modern communication technology. With an automated process, you can see everything important from the bottom to the top of the company within minutes. You can have a snapshot of the triumphs, challenges, and brilliant ideas that came up while you are away.

But best of all, having an agile employee feedback process already in place allows you to leave without checking-in at all. Go ahead, go windsurfing or hiking. Travel to a place that has no wifi or cellular reception. You will know with confidence that your employees are communicating with transparency and fluidity, so that those that have remained to steer the ship can keep it on target.

Image Credit: JD Hancock 

Does your company encourage you to leave your work behind while on vacation? Do you find it hard to get away? Leave us a comment below.


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