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Is Annual Leave Still Leave? – Join Our #MTtalk…

Despite my love for travel, I absolutely hate packing. Every time I go away, I write a packing list: suntan lotion, beach gear, passport… And preparations for my upcoming vacation will be no different. Except, this summer, I won’t have to remember my passport.

Please Join Us!

What: #MTtalk

Where: Twitter

When: July 30, @1 p.m. ET (5 p.m. GMT / 10:30 p.m. IST)

Topic: Is Leave Still Leave?

Host: @Mind_Tools

With COVID-19 preventing overseas travel for many for the second consecutive year, those of us with a travel bug have had to be more creative with the way that we spend our vacation time. For me, this means taking a road trip with my girlfriends along the coast of England to the beautiful county of Devon.

I’m excited. Not only because I get to explore somewhere new and spend quality time with my friends, but because this trip will be the first time in what feels like forever that I will be leaving my makeshift home office and fully switching off from work.

Relaxing During a Pandemic

It’s been a challenging 18 months for all of us. “Pandemic brain” and “burnout” have become buzzwords that pop up in most conversations – and with good reason.

According to a LinkedIn poll that we published earlier this year, 68 percent of people said they’d been working longer hours while working from home during the pandemic. At the same time, the amount of annual leave being taken has reduced. Another poll revealed that a third (32 percent) of people had taken some time off last year to relax. And, worryingly, 20 percent of people responded, “What does relax mean?”

To try to combat widespread burnout in their organizations, companies such a LinkedIn, Mozilla and Bumble have given their employees “global days off.”

In June, the dating app Bumble gave its 700 staff a paid, fully off-line one-week vacation, with only a skeleton staff used to keep the company buzzing along. This was to ensure that employees were able to take time off without the fear of missing something important or having an unmanageable number of emails to return to.

And yet, something doesn’t sit quite right with me about being told to take a week off.

Is Holidaying at Home a Waste of Leave?

However, as we wait for normal service to resume, many of us have questioned whether it’s worth wasting annual leave days with no prospect of being able to go anywhere – opting instead to continue working until we can travel. For me, two weeks off in my living room-cum-office wasn’t exactly appealing!

Another colleague of mine, Marketing Manager Claire, had her flights to Greece cancelled due to the pandemic. She was tempted to reduce her two-week holiday to one, but decided to “… still have two full weeks off work, to switch off and recharge.”

Mind Tools’ Community Manager Yolandé has worked remotely for some time, and still finds it tricky to properly switch off when taking annual leave. As she explains, “I started working online many years ago. The first time I disconnected from work for longer than three days was seven years in – and it was only because it was my honeymoon.

“However, the organization didn’t expect me to be online all the time. I simply felt too guilty not to work if I had access to the internet. It felt “wrong” to stay off-line.

“I came from a work culture where putting work before your personal life was rewarded. Working long hours and hardly ever taking leave were regarded as signs of strength. If you did that you were in a different league – that special league that got promoted, climbed the ladder, got more and more responsibility, and then had a heart attack, while wondering how on earth things ended up here.

“Impostor Syndrome was also real to me. By opening my laptop and working – on the beach, on safari, at a resort, in the car (not a brilliant idea), and on the plane – anywhere from Las Vegas to the Kruger National Park, I felt more “worthy.” I was trying to prove to myself and to others that I truly was hardworking, competent, conscientious, trustworthy, loyal. Of course, if I wasn’t all of those things to begin with, I wouldn’t have been in that position.”

Taking a Break in a Pandemic – Your Top Tips

With normal holidaying not an option for many, and with international travel increasingly difficult, we asked for your top tips on how to take annual leave and make it count!

LinkedIn follower Abdullah Alzahim said that “a relatively long trip to the mountains in the south of Saudi Arabia” made his day. “Cool weather, different terrains from my home town and a real break from work with the family is a real pleasure.”

Marketing Manager Claire, who had her overseas holiday cancelled, said, “We are planning an itinerary that includes local day trips and a couple of overnight stays in new places. We are going to cover countryside, coast and city, and have strict “no-phone days.” And we are going to buy and cook some Greek food so we can still have a taste of the Mediterranean!”

Content Editor Kevin Dunne also had a novel idea for overcoming the restrictions on international travel. He explained, “My partner and I have done a house swap with friends in Suffolk… completely free of charge to all parties, petrol money the only cost. We did it in the light of ‘price gouging’ for staycations.”

About This Week’s Twitter Chat

In our #MTtalk Twitter chat this Friday, hosted by Yolande Conradie, we’re asking if annual leave really is still leave if we’re constantly in contact with work. We’ll also explore how the blurring of home and work boundaries is affecting our ability to properly disengage from work.

Ahead of our chat, we ran a Twitter poll this week, to explore how you handle emails and messages while on annual leave. It was encouraging to see that almost 50 percent of participants said they turned off all notifications. However, this of course means that more than 50 percent of participants are still, in some form, engaging with work while they’re supposed to be on holiday. To see all of the poll results, click here.

We’d love you to participate in the chat, and the following questions may spark some thoughts in preparation for it:

    • What are the benefits of taking leave and completely disconnecting from work?
    • How does failing to disconnect from work affect us?
    • Do you feel guilty when you take leave? Why/why not?
    • If you (or a co-worker) are known as the “go to” person, whose problem is it when you’re away?
    • Some of us are WFH (working from home) and then OLAH (on leave at home). What’s the difference?
    • What would you like your leave to be like?
    • What will you do to ensure that you disengage from work when you’re next on leave?

Resources About Taking Annual Leave

To help you to prepare for the Twitter chat, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you to browse:

Ready for a Real Vacation?

Burnout Self-Test

Rest, Relaxation and Sleep

Managing Your Boundaries

Subjective Well-Being

How to Relax After a Hard Day

The PERMA Model

5 Steps to Enjoying a Better Vacation

How to Join Our #MTtalk on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter to make sure that you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday! We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat.

To participate in the chat, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “Latest” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hashtag #MTtalk in your responses.

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