Summer Tele-vacation?

This weekend, the 4th of July holiday is upon us, and among the many traditions associated with this weekend- fireworks, barbeques, baseball – it is also quite common to see employees plan their vacations around this time of the year. With the kids out of school and a holiday weekend, there will be plenty of cars on the roads heading out of town. In fact, AAA says there will be 17% more cars on the road this year than for the 4th of July weekend in 2009.

With vacation comes the difficult task of turning off your phone and leaving your work behind while we spend time with our families. For some, it’s easy to close up shop and not worry about anything until returning back to the desk after the long weekend. But for others, especially government officials, it can be hard to turn it all off and enjoy the vacation.

As I’ve stated previously, I am a huge proponent of teleworking, and I’ve been lucky enough to telework for most of the past eight years with HP. And despite the rejection of the telework bill in the house of representatives this spring, I think that there is still evidence that government workers support teleworking and want to make it a reality. Still, working remotely can blur the line a bit between your personal time and your time at work, and can make you feel the need to be connected wherever you are.

In years past, we were always a phone call away if trouble arose while on vacation – but with the increase of smart phones, we are now forced to ignore our phones entirely in order to get away, lest we be troubled by the ding of incoming email. Vacation is about getting away from some of the stressful day-to-day routines of work. However, sometimes getting away still means staying connected.

So, what are your plans for the getaway weekend? Are you planning to survive the traffic and get out of town? If so, do you plan on tele-vacationing, or will you be able to fully ignore the Blackberry in your pocket and focus on the blackberry pie served with your hot dogs and corn-on-the-cob?

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Nichole Henley

I read an article recently directed towards high officials that said, “do you REALLY support work/life balance?” The article went into advising senior officials that if you really want your people to believe that you support work/life, don’t send emails past 6pm or on the weekends or holidays; don’t put out unnecessary data calls at 4pm and expect a full report by 7am; go to the office party functions; etc. We lead by example. Of course, I have a work BB and to tell you the truth, the only time I look at it is I’m away from my desk/office/building for meetings or training. Never after work hours. Being our senior HR person for my organization, I realize that there are fires developing everywhere and I will do my best to provide support and advice during normal work hours (which for me are about 9-10 hour days). AFterwards, that’s it. THe BB is ignored and no emails or phone calls are responded to. And that balance works for me and my bosses.

Christina Morrison

Nichole — Great approach. I agree, managers all over Gov or Private Sector all say work life balance because it’s expected. However, I have been invited to meeting that started at 5PM on a Friday to fit the schedule of the West Coast team. Granted the WC team has attended 7AM meeting on Monday. Where is the balance. Technology has helped advance the way we do work, but the problem is we are now able to work 24/7. I have been a teleworker for the last 8 years, and love it. But it is so hard to walk away at the end of the day. Maybe if I do one more thing on my to do list.. I’ve now learned that To Do List, will always be there, but reading bed times stories to my 3 year old will not.

Great comments and Happy 4th of July!!!

Henry Brown

Been Teleworking/working virtual for a long time, and in MOST cases after coming to an understanding with my supervisor(s) have been able to have what works for me as far work/life balance.
Some of the things that we do/have done is I include my non-work related tasks on my to-do list which is shared with my supervisor.

Have found that the meetings scheduled late Fri afternoon have dropped to a minimum, especially when it is likely that out of the meeting are going to come deliverable(s) which are expected early the next week.

Because none of us abuse this process we all understand that if a meeting is scheduled late friday or our supervisor requests us to provide a deliverable over the holiday/weekend/vacation break that there has been at least some understanding by all concerned that the “issue” was unavoidable.

@ Nichole
Could you provide a link to the article?

Nichole Henley

I’ve been trying to find the article again!! I will let you know when I find out. I usually print out articles I really enjoy and feel motivated by, but this one had to go in the trash as my cube is filled with other articles!!! But, my quest will continue and I will let you know when I stumble upon it again

Jay S. Daughtry, ChatterBachs

First, I have worked primarily from my home since 1999. I have found it to be a tremendously effective use of time without all the interruptions of the traditional workplace- not to mention the time it frees up without having a commute. Second, the question of vacations and staying connected to work is really more about personal time in general. I have certainly enjoyed the times- whether it’s in the evening, on weekend, or on vacation- where I didn’t have to respond to a Blackberry. I’ve always found it amusing- and disturbing- that people are so distracted by technology. I love technology and its uses, but I can also turn it off. I like your final question, Christina… “will you be able to fully ignore the Blackberry in your pocket and focus on the blackberry pie served with your hot dogs and corn-on-the-cob?” The question is… can you disconnect from work to be focused on the family and friends or activity in front of you? Can you be “in the moment”? I say yes. It’s worth it.

Christina Morrison

Jay — you are so right. I tell myself “Be in the Moment. Be here and not on your Blackberry” I’m getting better. Great advice.

Jay S. Daughtry, ChatterBachs

Christina, I just posted a blog: I had my own Wimbledon Moment (or… “Life Lessons from Tennis”). Please check it out. I think you’ll see that it relates to what we were just discussing.