The origin of the word vacation is found in the Latin "vacare" meaning to be free, innocent. However, according to a QAPA study from 2020, 71% of employees answer work emails or calls during their vacations. And it bothers more than 56% of them!
Between the difficult year we’ve been through, and an uncertain back-to-school period ahead of us, a time to disconnect seems more than necessary.
So, how do you disconnect when you are on holiday? How do you create the right headspace for yourself? Here are four tips to help you disconnect and recharge while on holidays and successfully return to work after your break.
1. ℹ️ Anticipate your holidays departure
Procrastination is a nasty flaw, a failing that claims many victims! However, if you anticipate your departure, you will be able to relax more quickly once you arrive at your destination. Therefore, two weeks before your departure, start by listing all the important topics to deal with. For example:
Take stock of all the important issues in progress. Identify those that you need to complete before you leave, those that will be taken up by other colleagues and those that will wait until the new school year comes. This allows you to correctly identify priorities and urgent matters.
Inform your clients and collaborators of your departure in advance. Be clear about the dates of your absence, otherwise your clients will rely on you to make progress on their projects. To avoid unpleasant surprises and misunderstandings about deadlines, put the date of your absence in writing by email and demand confirmation of receipt of the information from them. Your employees also need to have a vision of the timeframe of each person's holidays. To do this, you should take the time to clarify the organization of each person's vacation as early as possible in the year. Of course, avoid having everyone on a break at the same time, as this allows you to set up a rotation to ensure a permanent presence. On your side, if possible, try to go on vacation at the same time as your major clients or outside of critical delivery periods for projects.
Prepare your absence message and emergency contact information. Don't choose your replacement randomly: he or she must be competent, have time and have a global vision of your work.
2. 🤝 Provide clear rules and roles
What does an emergency mean? When can (or should) your team contact you? How would you prefer them to contact you (call, text...) in case of an emergency? Which clients require special attention, which projects are the most sensitive? Define the answers to these questions together to ensure that you and your team are on the same page. The more information they have before you leave, the more reassured they will be once they are alone with the task. Effective communication ensures that you're not called on too often or contacted only when it's a hot topic. Give them confidence by reminding them of their expertise and what they are capable of, while inviting them to write to you if they are unsure. This openness will make them feel supported, even if they ultimately decide not to contact you.
As for everyone's roles, avoid giving them out between two meetings on the evening of your departure. 15 days before your departure, make individual appointments with the main people involved. Explain the purpose of the meeting and prepare well with Popwork so that everyone can anticipate any questions they may have. After explaining to everyone what you expect of them, hold a team meeting so that everyone is aware of their neighbors' responsibilities. This is also an opportunity to summarize the files in progress and to specify the necessary actions to be taken during your absence. This creates solidarity between employees, which can smoothen relations if there is a rise in stress.
3. 📴 Really disconnect
Have you ever noticed, while teleworking or at the office, that a walk or a simple coffee break allows you to put your ideas back in place and to find THE solution to a complex problem? During a working day, breaks, even tiny ones, are important to clear your mind and help you welcome new ideas. Vacations are exactly the same, but the effect is even more visible. Because vacations, when they really are vacations, give you the opportunity to recharge your batteries 100%.
The first step in achieving true disconnection is to trust the team at the office. The more they feel you trust them, the more they will manage and the less you will worry. If you have managed to delegate everyone's tasks properly, everything will be fine! Next, set a day in the week when you check your email, no more. If you know that you can easily be tempted by your screens, remove the synchronization of your emails on your cell phone. Your team knows that if there is a real emergency (as defined by you before leaving on vacation), they can reach you directly by phone and leave you a message. Finally, think about the fact that if you don't disconnect, your team in turn won't disconnect during their own vacation. Lead by example, to avoid burn-out and other bad surprises.
4. 📝 Prepare to go back to work!
One last thing to do to leave with a light heart: list the important tasks that await you when you return to the office. Be aware of the work in September, and possibly anticipate how you will handle it. And once you're back, don't pressure yourself into doing everything in one day. You'll undo all the benefits of your weeks off! Plan a meeting the day after your return to review what happened while you were away.
To avoid inertia at the end of the holidays or losing precious days or weeks in September that could prevent you from reaching your goals for the year, quickly re-mobilize your team by defining together the goals to be reached by the end of the year. You can easily enter and track these goals in Popwork.
Finally, once you're on vacation, don't forget to recharge your batteries and get inspired by what you experience. Your creativity will thank you! For this, there is no need to go too far away.
"We travel to change, not of place, but of ideas!"
said the philosopher Hippolyte Taine.
To go further, you can download our guide to smoother vacations as a manager which takes up these principles and adds a practical checklist to make sure you are moving in the right direction! 👇