Posted by Clea Badion on Friday, December 6, 2013 - 00:00
The holidays are almost here, and most of us are planning some days off.
But for many IT professionals, a vacation without checking in with work is about as common as an encounter with Bigfoot. Or a unicorn. You get the idea.
Work-life balance is important for all workers, but it can be especially elusive if you work in technology. Call it the nature of the business: With weekend software deployments, and customers and end users around the world who require technical support, IT groups typically operate 24/7.
Many IT professionals see checking in with work when they’re off the clock as part of the job. Unsurprisingly, most CIOs check in with work after hours, too. We asked on LinkedIn, “Do IT workers ever relax on vacation?” and here’s what you said:
“If you’re serious about enjoying it, yes; but certainly if your job requires your attention, probably not.” (Eric G.)
“Only if you turn off your phone, and don’t check any work-related email or projects. It’s hard, but after a few days, you realize the impact work has on your life. It can be very challenging to take more than a few days here and there.” (Michael W.)
“I don’t think so. There’s always the question of what will be walked into when someone gets back.” (Matt K.)
Indeed, fear of the unknown may be the problem for most IT pros while on vacation: Checking in a few times while they’re away may allow them to relax more because they know they won’t be walking back into a nightmare the day they return.
However, not everyone was in favor of checking in while on vacation:
“If you have to check in when you’re supposed to be relaxing then your work-life balance needs scrutiny, together with your colleagues’ ability to cover your job …” (Steve J.)
Everyone needs to disconnect at some point. Taking a break allows you to recharge and approach your work with a fresh perspective. Planning ahead can certainly limit the amount of time you’ll spend checking in with work. Here are three tips to help you achieve some measure of work-life balance while away:
- Identify a point person. Designate a person whose judgment you trust to make decisions about what issues need to be elevated and what issues can be taken care of without your involvement.
- Keep information accessible. Once you designate a point person, let him or her know where all the important information is kept so you only have to be contacted in urgent situations.
- Designate check-in times. Though it might not be possible in every case, make an effort to limit the number of times you check in with the office, or check only at designated times.
Do you always check in with work while on vacation? Never? Share your tips for achieving the ever-elusive work-life balance in the comments.