It’s Summer time and I’m writing this post after a wonderful day at the beach.
Two full weeks off. I haven’t had that much time off for such a long time and it almost feels illegal.
So of course I have taken my work emails with me, just in case.
My husband told me clearly:’ You are not going to work during these holidays! you’re going to switch off.’.
Of course I will.
I know how to switch off.
It should be easy.
It should be.
And so I have had to hide in the bathroom with the shower on just to check my emails, like someone who has an affair and secretly and almost compulsively checks their messages every couple of hours, sometimes even several times an hour. Just a quick look. A glance. Nothing much. Really.
And that’s when it occured to me, most of us are actually addicted to our work. Proper addicts. Almost 80% of my stakeholders are actually on holidays this week,(including clients) and yet everyone seems to be firing emails and proposing new plans… don’t people ever switch off?? Or are there games people play when away on holidays? holidays relaxing
There is something perverse about out of the office behaviour
We leave office and turn on the customary ‘out of office message’.
This can range from: ‘I am not available for the next 2 weeks, will have no emails, will not check my messages and will absolutely not be able to help with any query of any kind until my return in September‘ to ‘I am unfortunately on annual leave, but will check my emails regularly. In case I don’t respond promptly enough here is my personal mobile number. Please do not hesitate to get in touch and I will answer your query as soon as possible.‘
Either way, most of us check messages anyway.
We check, we read and we see what’s going on… but it is up to us whether or not we choose to respond to these emails, and in return, how to play it out when we get back from our ‘holidays’…
Main behavioural profiles
1. The Passive Observer
This type of individual reads everything on a daily basis. They like to pay attention to who was copied, or the time an email was sent etc. Every detail matters. This provides a warm feeling of control. The Passive Observer rarely reply to anything or anyone… Yet upon their return to the office, they will always ask the same question innocently: ‘Have I missed anything?’
2. The Deletinator
The deletinator checks their work email several times a day with the sole purpose of deleting as many messages as possible, thus making it feel like not much will need to be taken care of upon their return. Less emails in the inbox = less stress!
He or she never switches off. They feel like a fraud when away from work, and guilty about taking time off. Their boss knows this, and so do their clients. As a result of this commitment, it has now become an expectation that the workaholic will be available 24/7 and take care of everything in everyone else’s absence.
4.The Beach Queen/King
He or she is so important that they have a full time PA checking emails for them whilst away in a private villa with butler service near Bali. Should something extremely urgent and important happen, the PA would call as per agreed protocol. The beach king or queen can also be the master of leverage – someone who has turned delegation into a fine art. They do check emails, but only to forward to a minion such as the workaholic who will discharge the task.
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