It is that long awaited time of year when you finally get to leave the stress and smog of the city and head off to warmer climes with loved ones for that all important and well deserved relaxation, rejuvenation and reconnection with the important things in life. However in order to reconnect you have to disconnect, which can be easier said than done. The trouble that so many of us face is being unable to switch off on Holiday.
Communication technology is making it increasingly impossible for people to have a real Holiday. Responding to emails, listening to voicemails, tweeting, and updating your Facebook status is becoming such an ingrained part of our daily life that when you try to stop the withdrawal is too much to bear, but at what cost to you? Your Family? And your relationship?
With new social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook some people feel compelled to report their every move, and make sure they are never more than a metre away from their smart phones. In our increasingly connected world, keeping in touch is simple. With widespread global internet access and network coverage, we can access our Work emails through our blackberries and smart phones and answer calls while relaxing on the beach. This can be a blessing or a curse.
For a small business owner keeping in touch could be the key to survival but for the workaholic husband (or wife I should say too) who can never switch off, staying connected at all times can sometimes cause irreparable damage to family life.
Not being able to fully relax and unwind whilst on holiday can have a really negative impact on the family as a whole not to mention increasing everyone’s stress levels too."
Working holidays are increasingly becoming the cause of conflict in relationships. It is becoming all too common a complaint that work got in the way of the holiday. It is impossible to relax when the phone is always ringing or buzzing, not to mention irritating for your loved one having to listen to those annoying beeps, key tapping and conversations. Spending too much time focused on work whilst away can result in your family and your relationship feeling neglected and pushed down the priority scale.
As a matrimonial solicitor I have heard complaints from many a wife about holidays having to be cancelled at the last minute or husbands having to take a later flight because of that all important deal. If couples do not make a concerted effort to make time for each other and enjoy those precious times away what might start as small problems in the relationship may grown into unmanageable and irreparable ones.
The absent parent is not just a problem for single parent families, but can also be a problem for couples who are outwardly happily married – but when one party is never there because of work or simply being glued to a gadget whilst at home and away. A divorce petition often includes details of unreasonable behaviour by the other spouse within the marriage, and we are more frequently including examples where holidays have been ruined because of the other’s work commitments.
A recent Regus survey of 2,500 people has found that around 40 per cent of UK professionals spend up to three hours completing Work related tasks each day while on holiday. A further quarter have reported that they will be operating a slightly reduced “business as usual” from their sunbeds. Not being able to fully relax and unwind whilst on holiday can have a really negative impact on the family as a whole not to mention increasing everyone’s stress levels too.
Is it our bosses that expect this sort of commitment? Or is it employee loyalty and wanting to do a good job for our clients that keeps us Working when we are supposed to be relaxing and spending time with the family? Or are we afraid that there might be redundancy announcements just around the corner so we want to continue trying to keep ourselves available for the office to show that we are prepared to go that extra mile so that it will be someone else’s head on the block. Or is it simply that some people can’t accept that their colleagues could truly survive a week in the office without them?
Finding a work life balance can be difficult but if it is necessary to work on holiday it is still possible to enjoy your time away and minimise the interference from work. Here's how:
1. Tell your co-workers that you are going on holiday, and don’t be afraid to delegate as much as possible before you go.
2. Put your out of office on and say that you will not be checking your emails but give the details of someone in the office who can be contacted if the email is urgent so that you can have peace of mind that you will be contacted if work needs you.
3. Check your emails no more than twice a day.
4. If work has to be done, then get it done at the start of the holiday so it doesn’t overshadow the whole trip.
5. Meal times should all be gadget free – no exceptions.
Holidaymakers may be more likely to send an email to a work colleague rather than a postcard but it is important to fully switch off and rest during a break, making the family a priority. Learning to balance the demands of a busy job with family life will make returning to the office more rewarding as you will be feeling rejuvenated, and more productive after having that special quality time your family. You can then start to plan the next holiday - maybe even leaving the smart phone at home.
Article by Ayla Dogruyol, Associate Matrimonial Solicitor, Charles Russell LLP