View Full Version : How much do you worry about/involve yourself with work while on vacation?
09-16-2010, 04:35 PM
I'm nearing the end of a week off of work. My girlfriend is in town, and we've been having a great time together. On the other hand, largely due to circumstances that cropped up long after the vacation time was scheduled, it was not a good time to be out of work. Things are really busy in the office right now, and my absence means that some people have to do things that I would normally do, and that I have to be somewhat diligent about keeping up with work email and such myself.
While this level of involvement in my office during time off isn't quite typical, I don't ever seem to go on a vacation without having my work Blackberry with me. Even though I'm not in a salaried and/or management position, there are expectations about me making sure certain things are handled in my absence, whether that be through delegation, or handling it myself. It just comes with the territory.
So this is a simple poll, but I'd love to hear narrative, as well, about how tied you are to your job when you're supposed to be enjoying yourself. How tight is your leash? If you do post, please give your occupation, and perhaps how long you've been employed in your present job.
Oh, for the record, I'm a paralegal at a mid-sized law firm. Been there over 8 years.
09-16-2010, 04:48 PM
Our office could burn to the ground while I'm on vacation and there's roughly a 50% chance of me finding out before I come back. The place basically doesn't exist to me when I'm out. Insurance sales, 5 years at this office.
09-16-2010, 04:57 PM
The only time on a vacation (such as they are) I won't be available to deal with anything that is urgent is when I am on the plane (though I will often work then) or at a particular event such as a wedding.
My vacations the past 5 years have centered on friends' weddings anyway.
I'm an associate at a law firm, 5 years here.
09-16-2010, 05:06 PM
I hate the way I'm going to answer this but...email usually twice a day and a phone call if there's an emergency. I would not recommend this to anyone who actually wants to relax on a trip. I have multiple ongoing projects that require a level of both technical and regulatory knowledge that I can't easily delegate and which don't go on hiatus because I'm on vacation.
I'm senior project manager with a small environmental consulting firm.
09-16-2010, 05:06 PM
Unless I'm on call, I don't give work a thought once I walk out the door.
09-16-2010, 07:53 PM
It's difficult to bring an X-ray machine through airport security, so I forget completely about work while on vacation.
09-16-2010, 08:03 PM
When I'm at work, I work. When I'm home in the evenings or on the weekends, I check email periodically (I'm in IT, so I'm always 'on call' if something bad happens). But when I'm on vacation, I'm on vacation. I don't care what's going on at work...let someone else deal with it, and if I have to pick up the pieces when I get back, that just makes me look all the better...
09-16-2010, 08:24 PM
My last couple of vacations, I've been a 'check email once or twice' person, but the last couple of vacations have been during really busy times. I do everything in my power before I leave to make sure my projects are covered, but since I've not yet mastered the mind meld, I still feel compelled to check in. That said, I'm still very much on vacation. You need a quick question answered, I'll call or email you back. If you've got an enormous crisis and I'm the only person who can fix it, you need to be paying me more.
Prior to this job, I was very much a "this place and everyone in it ceases to exist when I walk outside" kind of person.
09-16-2010, 09:09 PM
I manage the seventeen rental properties my hubby and I own. Because of the nature of my job, I'm pretty much always 'on the clock'. I have notices posted to please not call outside of business hours unless it's a real emergency. I have a message on my voicemail that pretty much echoes that sentiment. Still, I sometimes get calls/knocks on my door at 7AM or 11PM.
It's very difficult for me to plan a vacation, and pretty much necessitates me going out of town. If my tenants see my car here, they know I'm here, and therefore, I'm on duty.
So when I do go 'on vacation' (usually about four or five weekends a year), I try really, really hard not to work. I have my cell phone with me, so key people know how to reach me if it's a true emergency. Otherwise, it all has to wait until I get back!
09-16-2010, 09:13 PM
One confounding variable here (that will be made clear by people describing their job) is that some jobs can only be performed at a specific place and a specific time (e.g., waiting tables) while others can be performed anywhere at any time (e.g., president of the United States), and others are somewhere in between.
I'm a lawyer, so I can perform my job at times just by thinking about stuff, sending an email, or making a phone call. So, I often work on vacations. I try to be very strategic about planning vacations so that I'm out when lots of my clients and colleagues are as well (and this is one of the very few areas of life where religion is helpful).
09-16-2010, 09:18 PM
There's only 3 of us at my place, but we take vacations pretty seriously. The only thing we ask is that they're scheduled far enough ahead of time so that 2 people are sure to be around when the 3rd is out.
I've got the world's shittiest laptop and that goes on vacation with me. It barely allows me to send email (actually my iPod Touch turned out to be a much better email tool). I will check my email, at my leisure - as in, I won't wake up early or get back before 5 to check it - and anything that is work-related gets forwarded on to one of my partners w/o comment from me.
We never do vacation messages at our place, either. We try really really hard to get our clients to email the "group" addresses - support, info, billing. If they try to email us personally and don't get a reply, then tough shit. You were warned.
BTW Asmovian, in my single experience it seems like it'd be much easier to travel from Eastern to Pacific than the other way around as a way to avoid work. When I was in San Francisco, the company's day was half over by the time I woke up. It must be tempting when you come to Ohio to think "oh, I can do a couple things for them before they get in". As if!
09-16-2010, 09:25 PM
I'm a conference interpreter, so I'm essential to meetings if I'm there--but if I'm not, hell, they just go find someone else (hopefully not as good as me--koff) to do it.
RR makes a good distinction among job types: My kind of job can only be done if I'm physically present, so if I'm on vacation, I cease to exist to the folks at work. Score!
09-16-2010, 10:22 PM
I'm retired now but I based my answer on when I was working. And my answer was that I essentially never thought about work once I walked out the door.
09-16-2010, 10:28 PM
I am the sole proprietor of a consulting engineering business so I generally eat, sleep, and breathe my work. I work mostly from home, and I am one of these whose housekeeping and money-making work stuff is all mixed up.
I rarely go on vacation but when I do, I try to keep a check on my email, and my cell phone is a necessity for keeping in touch with clients. I try to be available during my waking hours and all weekend also. Rarely does a client need me after hours or on weekends, but those few times one did they REALLY needed me. For example, if a dam starts leaking it doesn't matter if it's during normal hours or not, I kind of need to know about that.
If I go out of town for a conference I always bring work with me and check emails & phone messages several times a day.
Oh, right, I started this business about 9 years ago, but I've been in the civil engineering profession for over 22 years. My focus is a specialty (hydrology & hydraulics) and there aren't many of us in the area.
09-17-2010, 12:09 AM
I'm an attending in a family medicine teaching program.
They only reason they might need me when I'm on vacation is for minor housekeeping issues. I tell everybody to e-mail me if they need me, but if it's timely to contact someone else in the office. I check it when I get a chance and the inclination. The phone is not a big issue, so I'll answer it if someone calls and I'm not busy; usually I just remind whoever it is that I'm on vacation, they apologize, and it ends there.
I could drop off the grid entirely, but I really love my job and my co-workers, so I genuinely want to stay on top of things. The difference on vacation is that I can think about everything on my own time.
09-17-2010, 01:55 AM
A lot - I'm a scientist and will always be thinking about my research and my group. The thinking about science at the conceptual level is actually pretty positive and doesn't interfere with things - I'm always doing this. Light email supervision of my group is also not a big deal.
The big negative, though, is getting a lot of anxiety about the pressures of the job when you're away and unable to deal with them. For me this is research funding, which is an extremely tough climate at the moment. It's OK when I'm actually at work busy addressing it, but I tend to fret about things like this when I'm away on holiday. I've just come back from a camping holiday in France that was a constant effort to relax on (ie not relaxing at all).
I'd actually prefer not to take extended holidays for this reason - I do a fair bit of travelling to conferences anyway which gets me away from the UK, and also get my unwinding time with plenty of hiking / mountain biking at the weekends. This will do me fine- my wife's the opposite though. We used to argue about it, but now we have a kid I think it is important that we take a family holiday together.
The only work-related thing I do while on vacation is answer phone calls from agents, but that's in the nature of the business (I'm a freelance consultant). If I don't answer, they either keep calling (sometimes at horrid hours) or write my phone number off as "not valid any more", it's better to answer it. I update them on when I'll be available next and that's it.
09-17-2010, 04:38 AM
I constantly work during vacations - but it's because nothing interests me more. I am an author, and doing a PhD, so I am researching topics which I have chosen because they fascinate me. Those topics will be the basis of my next few books and my thesis. So any travel is associated with my research, so I guess that's work. Just back from a four-week rush around the British Neolithic. Wonderful! As an author, I am always thinking about writing, so anything I see which I find interesting will feed my writing.
Pay rate isn't great, but it is enough. Lifestyle is superb.
09-17-2010, 06:02 AM
When I'm on vacation, though I might think about work, I'm not actively working -- not checking my email, nothing. I will have my cell with me, so would be reachable, but that's only happened once in the last 15 years or so.
I work in publishing, which is deadline-driven but predictable. I set stuff up to be gone, then deal with anything that came up after I get back.
09-17-2010, 06:39 AM
I'll see what is happening in the financial markets, but I don't do any actual work.
09-17-2010, 07:22 AM
On my last vacation, I disconnected from the world 100%. One way to tell you're in an environment designed to separate people from the daily terrors of the real world is that they change the carpets (http://www.themeparkreview.com/cruise2008/cruise2008_170.jpg)in the elevators every day to indicate what day it it.
That was a rare treat. Normally, I'm on-call every other week.
09-17-2010, 11:52 AM
When I'm on vacation, I'm on vacation. I don't check my work email, and they don't have my personal email. I don't give anyone at the office a number where I can be reached. I'm gone.
09-17-2010, 12:13 PM
I put "check email once or twice", but that's really only after we've returned from our trip (3 kids, never vacation at home) so I'm prepped a bit when I come back in. I'm a software engineer at a large tech company.
When I worked at much smaller companies, I'd leave contact info when on vacation, but never checked in myself. Now, I don't even do that.
I put "check email once or twice",
That's what I should have checked, but really I disconnect 100%. On my last couple of vacations I occasionally checked my e-mail becuse I was expecting a non-work related message on my work account.
09-17-2010, 01:06 PM
It really depends on the vacation. I always put an 'out of office' message up and let people know of an alternative person, e-mail they can call with an emergency requiring immediate attention, but also list my own number in case it is only something I can deal with.
Most people respect that, but inevitably something comes up while I am on vacation requiring my minimal attention. I say minimal because I do not ever bring a laptop specifically so I CANNOT have my vacation ruined. The nature of the emergency is usually of a "where do find this data or file?" anyway. All of this, of course, assumes that it is a vacation within the country. If I go on an international trip, I do not have an international plan, in which case a few key people get my personal e-mail and they understand that any disaster they need an answer to may take me a few days to answer based on availability of e-mail in that country/hotel/cruiseship.
I work for a defense company as their head proposal and grant writer. I've been with the company 10 months. I was with the previous company a year and half until the boss insisted on me taking a laptop and ruined every vacation, weekend, and evening out with constant disasters that he formulated and never discussed with me in advance. Ergo, why I'm no longer at that crap-fest.
09-17-2010, 01:16 PM
Nothing, zip, zero, nada. No e-mail, no voice mail, no work-related phone calls. The whole point of a vacation in the first place is that you're not at work.
My boss has my personal cell number, but nobody else at work does, and certainly no customers do. If anything truly can't wait until I get back, they'll have to find somebody else to do it.
09-17-2010, 01:18 PM
I was on vacation in Newfoundland one time, driving around, and I swear this was my honest-to-god thought process:
"All the houses here look so Canadian, I wonder what makes them so Canadian-looking. Hmm, the garages aren't front-and-center like American houses. That must be it, American houses are very car-centric with giant garages. I wonder if my house back home has a garage. Hmm, do I even live in a house?"
Seriously, I had to really think to remember what my house looked like, that's how far I had abandoned my real life while I was on that vacation.
I was on vacation in Newfoundland one time, driving around, and I swear this was my honest-to-god thought process:
I kind of get that too, but in a slightly different way. I consider Martha's Vineyard to be my year-round home, I just work off-island for 51 weeks out of the year.
09-17-2010, 01:38 PM
On my last job, I was on-call literally 24/7 as a third-level back up. I didn't get a lot of calls, but when I did, it meant that everything had gone to hell in a hand basket. It got that I would literally shout "Fuck!" whenever the phone rang during vacation. One time, I had to fly back early from my vacation because my laptop crapped out.
Never again. The day after I quit that job (on good terms), I can't describe how liberated I felt knowing that I would get a full night's sleep without the anxiety that the phone might ring.
Barrister. Get called all the time. My favourite holiday place is London where incidentally there are also a lot of work related things, so it is normal to spend several hours on work related activities, say a meeting. As it is, Chambers (the firm) is very decent about such stuff, if its a meeting they will arrange it as a dinner in a nice resturant and once a private box at the Royal Opera house, so I ain't complaining.
09-17-2010, 02:50 PM
I check email and voice mail about once a day on vacation, more if I know there is something brewing.
I'm an administrator at a college, and in a lot of ways I function as a project manager. To me, at least, checking email and voice mail daily and heading off potential issues early is far superior to coming back from vacation and finding a situation that has gone off the rails to the point where it takes a lot of extra work to correct it.
09-17-2010, 04:02 PM
My work email comes to my blackberry. While I'm on vacation I'll look at it a couple of times per day (assuming I'm not doing something specific), but won't respond to anything unless I'm 100% sure I'm the only one who can deal with it. Even then, I'll probably wait a few hours to see if any of my co-workers will take a stab at it.
When I was working tech support, vacations usually meant turning off my phone and burying it in a hole somewhere until I got back. Tech support is great for instilling a deep aversion to telephones and email in a person.
09-17-2010, 05:26 PM
Read the politics section of the news (I work in central government) but I have absolutely no contact with work whatsoever. I don't have the facility to check work email as I don't have a laptop/crackberry and I really don't want one.
I would grudgingly accept that there might be some major crisis and it's unavoidable that I might get a phone call from someone asking about something that I know that no-one else does, but that's it (and in fact I can only remember this ever happening once several years ago).
09-18-2010, 11:30 AM
I'm a manager at a state agency. I'm on call 24/7, and unfortunately for me, no one else has both the authority and knowledge to cover for me completely in my absence. I'm lucky if I can go a weekend without getting a phone call about some emergency. I have no chance of getting through a week without an emergency phone call, or receiving an email which requires immediate attention.
09-18-2010, 12:27 PM
I'm a programmer. I don't have any way of accessing work remotely. The company offers VPN service but I've resisted getting it. I live a 15 minute walk from work so if they really need me in an emergency and I can just go into the office. If it's not worth me going into the office for it's not an emergency, and if I'm not at home then somebody else can deal with the problem.
09-18-2010, 02:39 PM
I let the work pile up. What's the point otherwise?
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