Practice Management

It’s tempting to check in with the office, but hitting the hit the pause button pays dividends in the long run

By Leah Golob |

With email only a click away on a smartphone, it can be harder than ever for employees to leave work at the office when they head out on vacation.

And many of us can't seem to resist the urge to connect. A third of working professionals in Canada reported touching base with the office at least once or twice a week while on vacation, according to a recent survey from Toronto-based staffing firm Accountemps.

This is only a small improvement from the 36% of professionals surveyed by Accountemps who reported working while on holiday the previous year.

But checking in from the beach can undermine the main goal of your getaway — rejuvenation. "Vacations are an opportunity to relax, recharge and return to work with a clear head and fresh perspective," says Dianne Hunnam-Jones, Canadian president of Accountemps.

"Down time can provide the break needed for you to come back more focussed and productive."

And professionals say they want that time to relax and recharge. Over half of the professionals who responded to the survey (53%) suggested that they feel the need for more vacation time.

However, many can't tear themselves away from the office because they want "peace of mind" that everything is running smoothly, Hunnan-Jones says.

For advisors running their own practice, it can be more difficult to unplug than your average professional, but there are a couple of strategies you can use to make the most of your holiday:

Prepare in advance
It's a good idea to plan your vacation days during times of the year that you know will likely require less time with clients.

A related strategy is to give key clients notice of your absence so that you can answer questions or finish any necessary work for them before your vacation.

The same applies to your team: if you're working with a team, give them due notice so that they can plan to assume any extra workload while you're away, Hunnan-Jones says. 

Set a schedule
If you know that it's unrealistic for you to unplug completely, create a very limited schedule for when you'll be available to answer questions by email, Hunnan-Jones says.

For instance, you might set aside 10:00am to 11:00am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday of your week off, and note these times in your out-of-office email message.

These out-of-office messages can be tailored internally and externally, Hunnan-Jones adds, so that, when possible, you can direct each group to a trusted resource who can speak in your absence.

Get back on course
One of the top three reasons professionals work on vacation — beyond seeking "peace of mind" and ensuring that projects are on track — is a fear of being overwhelmed upon return, Hunnan-Jones says.

One way to minimize that concern is to plan a quick "catch-up" meeting with your assistant and any other team members on the day you return to the office. That way, you can quickly learn which tasks are a priority.

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