Summer Vacation: The Strategic Value of Really Getting Away

By Robert Half June 30, 2017 at 7:59pm

Before the digital age, “getting away from it all” was a whole lot easier. Critical tasks were delegated to others, and anything less important just had to wait. You’d tidy your desk and tell your colleagues, “I’ll be sure to send a postcard!” And no one would even think about interrupting your vacation unless it was an emergency.

Today, making a clean break from the office while on vacation can be tough. In fact, a recent survey by our company found that “workations” are becoming more common for professionals today. More than half (54 percent) of workers said they typically check in with the office at least once or twice a week during their vacation, up from 41 percent just one year ago.

Just do it (it’s a good thing)

While unplugging completely from work, even for a short time, can be difficult for busy accounting and finance professionals, it’s important to find a way to strike a balance between your career and your personal life. Doing so is good for your overall well-being.

There is strategic value in letting go, as well. Setting aside work for a few days or more enables you to come back to the office feeling energized and with a fresh perspective. Once you've been revitalized, you will be able to perform better at your job and get more satisfaction from your work.

Here’s one strategy that can help you to set aside thoughts of work while on vacation: Make a commitment to yourself that you won’t check in with the office unless it is truly necessary. If you still feel compelled to touch base during your vacation, set a schedule for the brief times you’ll be accessible and note it in your out-of-office reply. Try to avoid checking email outside of those hours so you can rest and recharge.

Be sure to let your colleagues know, before you go, that you’re planning to be “offline” most of the time that you’re away. Also, be sure to wrap up projects and, if needed, appoint a trusted team member to handle your daily tasks during your vacation time. That will help to decrease the likelihood of co-workers needing to contact you while you're out.

Managers taking a vacation have a clear opportunity to give employees the chance to take on higher-level projects and more responsibility during their absence. Allowing valued employees to take the helm temporarily is a powerful gesture that demonstrates trust, and will help to make them feel valued. (Be careful not to overload staff members, though — they still have their own jobs to do. If needed, consider bringing in interim support to help keep key projects on track.)

Make an action plan — and go!

Once you’re back from vacation, you’ll want to get back on track with work as quickly as possible. So, consider scheduling a quick meeting with your manager or team to get caught up on what you may have missed and what projects are a priority.

Set realistic expectations for yourself, too. It might be wise to keep a light schedule the first day or two back at the office, especially if you’re been out for more than a week. Returning to a jam-packed calendar can quickly make the rejuvenating qualities of your vacation a distant memory.

Yes, getting away can be challenging. But do you really want vacation to be something that only other people do? Of course not. So, make a solid action plan for leaving work behind and returning to it smoothly. Then, pack your bags and hit the road!

Consulting: one way to take more control of your schedule

Flexible schedules are a top reason many finance professionals choose consulting and contract assignments over full-time work. When you work as a consultant, you can choose client projects that suit your lifestyle needs, and decide when to work more or fewer hours — and when to take a vacation.

You can explore consulting jobs on our site. Just click on the button below to search available positions.

This post was originally published in July 2015 and has been updated to reflect more current information.

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