Thursday 10th October 2024
Showground, Wadebridge

The key to a proper holiday

Margaret from HYLI has just come back from Wasdale Head in the Lake District, having taken a long weekend to get away from Cornwall and relax in another stunning part of the U.K.   Those of you who have visited the Lake District will know that, like Cornwall, it is a place of immense beauty and peace.  There are glistening lakes; mountains formed by glaciers that are dramatic enough to be in the Alps and the most welcoming snug country inns you could imagine with open fires, great ales and, one of keys to ensuring a proper holiday is had, no WIFI.

Let’s face it, most of us spend a large part of our working day on the Internet.  Whether it’s checking emails, social media PR or doing research, much of our work can be done from a smart phone or tablet in any place with a decent WIFI signal.  This is great for working at home, the local coffee shop or even the beach (subject to where you sit and which part of Cornwall you are in), but how does this access to technology affect our ability to have a proper holiday?

The fact is that having a proper holiday these days is tricky.  Given half the opportunity, we’ve all got a excuse to log in and see what’s going on back in the office.  From the classic, “I might as well check email every day to save time when I get back” to those that warrant their job so important that they carry on working anyway but call it a holiday because they are in a different location, the number of employees coming back to the office after two weeks off and asking “what’s been happening?” are getting fewer.

So is checking a few emails on holiday a problem? Not in itself but it doesn’t really allow time to properly switch off, and by that they mean taking a prolonged amount of time not thinking about work in order to get some perspective on the importance of your role plus some proper rest so that you can function at your best and make good decisions when you get back.

Employees in the UK are given statutory holiday for a reason, however Margaret from HYLI is sure shes not the only ones who has worked for organisations who thought this meant checking your blackberry hourly from a hotel with a business centre for two weeks. Because of this she knows people who have experienced a lot of guilt for taking their annual leave properly. Employers therefore have a responsibility to ensure employees have the “permission” to switch off properly, through encouragement to leave mobile device in the offices to even shutting down login permissions, which one large bank Margaret worked for did when employees went away, although mainly for money laundering monitoring reasons than for the welfare of staff!  Is no WIFI really required though?

Margaret personally struggle to switch off because she likes work, oh and she’s also a bit of control freaks.  No WIFI therefore worked for her as it is forced separation from work and makes her focus on her family and simple things such as reading books and going for a walk.  Whilst Margaret suffered WIFI withdrawal initially, she found that after a few days of no contact those things that were “oh so important and urgent” last week just didn’t seem that crucial anymore.  More importantly, switching off also gives her team the opportunity to get things done and make decisions without her which empowers them and builds her confidence to delegate to them more when she returns. All of this is key to mine and their development and essential to the businesses’ growth and success.

So, if you’re thinking about a proper holiday this year maybe going “WIFI FREE” for a couple of weeks could benefit both you and your business. The added bonus is that places with no WIFI tend to be the most beautiful unspoilt places on earth.  So doubly worth the effort.

Margaret de Valois is an Actuary and founder of lifeskills training company