Editorial: Be sure to disconnect from work on vacation

Digital technology means summer vacation isn't what it used to be

With only a few weeks to go until schools close for the summer, kids’ camps and vacations are on the horizon. And while the extra at-home time with kids can be an added stress for families, there’s usually at least one or two weeks where both parent and child can kick back together.

For most nine-to-fivers, summer vacation tends to be the choicest of time off. Christmas break is far too manic with gift-buying and family and cultural events; long weekends during the fall, winter and spring months are too short. But summer vacation – that’s the stuff of legend.

Unfortunately, too many of us are still wired to our work while on leave. A 2012 survey by California-based Good Technology estimated 57 per cent of working adults checked work emails on family outings, and 80 per cent used mobile devices to keep working outside regular working hours on weekdays. This three-year-old data has undoubtedly worsened with the proliferation of smartphones and digital work.

Overuse and misuse of technology at work has allowed work hours to expand dramatically, not just on vacation or after-hours, but inside the workplace as well. The pressure to constantly check email while completing a dozen other digital tasks means thought processes are often disjointed, leaving employees distracted and unable to keep up –which leads to chronic stress, burnout and other health problems. This result is bad for both employer and employee.

By applying 20th century thinking to modern technology and the need to do more with less, a lot of companies are fostering a sick workforce. Study after study shows that employees who are given a set amount of work to do – and who are free to set their own hours – are more productive and happy people. They’re better for business.

The bottom line? Vacation is you time, not work time. You won’t remember responding to emails on your deathbed, so kick back and enjoy yourself. Work can wait.


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