Time To Disconnect To Reconnect

July 29, 2012

Summer time is definitely here and it’s that time of year when there’s one thing on everyone’s mind…H-O-L-I-D-A-Y! Whatever you choose to call it – annual leave (A friend Doug Shaw had recently written about the ‘mechanical’ term annual leave ; interesting read for sure and I would also agree that such a term doesn’t sound exciting or inspiring ), vacation, holiday, time off – it all means one thing  : shutting off from work and focusing on everything else. Or at least that’s what an ideal holiday should be.


As I contemplate our upcoming ‘holiday’ (3 weeks to go! The last holiday I’d taken was more than a year and a half ago; and no – maternity leave does not count as a vacation!) I make a vow to myself that this time away will be focused family time. Just me, Baby T and Mr. C. No blackberry, iPhone, emails, text messages, tweets, or Facebook updates. For those two weeks  I will truly focus on enjoying my time with my family, on being present. I can appreciate nature and be at peace with myself. I can reconnect to what matters without being on constant auto-pilot. I can breathe.

I think about this and know that it will be a true test of will. Saying that I am definitely up for the challenge and willing to completely go “off the grid” for those two weeks; to disconnect in order to really reconnect. To truly grasp the concept of going “off the grid” I highly recommend checking out Brad Feld’s TEDXBoulder’s presentation “The Quarterly Week Off The Grid“.

I also know I will need to draw the line firmly with my friends and colleagues so I can truly enjoy my time away. This will require setting very clear expectations up front that I will not be within reach, that I will be a few time zones away and no I will not be replying to emails (that is why my out-of-office auto reply will be on!). This gets me to think about what a state we have reached that we feel guilty to “shut off” work when we’re on our days off. We have morphed into a 24×7 work culture that it is expected that we ‘check-in’ during our time away and respond to emails and sort out so called “urgent” matters during our leave. To that I would say there are some jobs that yes are required to be ‘on-call’; the nature of those jobs and industries requires individuals to be available and within reach; however those are the exceptions and should not be the norm. Sadly we now reward such behaviour instead of encouraging healthier approaches to balance the work / life paradigm.

Just as I was about to give up hope I came across an article in Inc. Magazine on how one employer decided to give his employees paid PAID vacations. Huh? Yes, you heard that right. Not just the annual paid days off; but paying them an additional $7,500 to not work during their time off, to truly disconnect and to treat themselves and their families to a nice vacation!! Wow. In an age where employers are trying to squeeze every ounce of work and ‘productivity’ out of their employees here’s a breath of fresh air that shows us a completely different take on it. Sign me up!

We wonder why employee dissatisfaction is at an all time high; why retention is a major issue and why productivity is at an all time low. People are burnt out. Everyone needs a break and everyone deserves a nice holiday at least once a year. With employees increasingly taking on more responsibility for the same pay and less benefits we have to question how sustainable this model is. This radical approach may not be easily adopted among the mainstream cost conscious organizations out there but there are definitely many ways we can help our employees to truly take their deserved time off and relax, switch off and come back fully refreshed and ready to take on new challenges.

As for me, unfortunately I won’t be getting an extra $7,500 to go on vacation but I sure will be switching off during my time away. That’s my gift to my family. Have a happy summer!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Doug Shaw July 30, 2012 at 9:35 am

Hey Shereen – how are you doing? Very kind of you to give me the name check, thanks.

I thought you and your readers might appreciate this piece from HR Fishbowl. http://hrfishbowl.com/2012/07/theres-nothing-semi-about-vacation/ It’s all about holidays and contains a few ideas about how to properly reeeeeeelax.

I’ve given your Facebook page a like so I can keep in touch easier. Have a great holiday and catch up soon.



Shereen August 1, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Cheers Doug! Thanks for stopping by and appreciate the support 🙂
Thanks for the HR Fishbowl link; very interesting article indeed!


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