woman sitting in chair on the beach by ocean

Totally Disconnected, Partially Disconnected, or Working Vacations

Want to improve your well-being? Take a vacation.

Gallup found that those who take regular vacations with family and friends have a higher well-being score. There are physical, mental, medical, and relationship benefits. Earth-shattering? Not at all.

Can workers with high levels of responsibility really take a completely disconnected vacation?

Here is a personal experience. Gone and totally disconnected, in a fishing lodge without access to the internet, what a gift. Solitude and peaceful disconnection from my hurried world. I could have made arrangements to be connected but chose not to.

Well, that came to an abrupt end. As predicted when the floatplane flying us back towards civilization was within range of a cell tower, my phone started buzzing and dinging with notifications. I don’t remember the number of emails and messages other than to say it was a lot.

Now came the task of digging out. We have all been there.

In digging out I became frustrated when I came across several items that needed decisions and folks put them on hold until I could respond.

Would I have been better off staying somewhat connected?

That begs the question: What type of vacation will benefit you the most? Totally disconnected, partially, or a working vacation?

Gallup says 66% of employees remain connected and do some work while on vacation and that is how they want it. Most of these workers feel an affinity to their workplace and a responsibility to stay connected. They want to keep their projects on track and not have to “dig out” when they return.

Engaged workers want to remain engaged. The new remote work wave with a myriad of flexible options has us all defining work differently than being at the office.

I see three types of respite from the office, totally disconnected, partially disconnected, and remote work at a vacation site. Think about what each option means for you and your team members, well-being, effectiveness, and engagement.

As you think about each option, I believe the essential question that needs an answer is: What are the limits I can tolerate on being disconnected or having that team member disconnected?

Totally Disconnected
We all need some of this type of time. No requirements to engage in work-related activities. Executives, business owners, and individuals in dynamic workplaces where they are the primary decision maker have limits on this type of vacation. In fact, this can add to the stress level.

Partially Disconnected
What does partially disconnected mean to you? If you allow this option for yourself or your team members and require attendance at every virtual meeting, is that what you are really after? What is the purpose of allowing someone to take time away from the office but still remain plugged in? Who defines what partially disconnected is may be the key to this option.

There are a lot of benefits to this option. Key decisions are made, progress continues, and it meets the terms of the person out of the office. The individuals who volunteer for this type of option feel good about it.

Working Vacations
I call this remote work from a vacation destination. There is no calling the person back into the office for an emergency meeting. Individuals are fully plugged into their responsibilities during the agreed-upon workday. They attend meetings virtually, meet all their deadlines and milestones, only it is done remotely at a vacation destination. Outside of work hours they are swimming, surfing, golfing, or doing other vacation activities.

Consider what works best for you and your team members based on what you want to accomplish. If increasing engagement and well-being is a top priority, vacations have been shown to make a positive impact. Flexibility in the type of time off arrangements may add to that engagement.