Working during vacation is a subject to be classified among the great taboos of the working world. “It is to be avoided!” HR professionals tell us. However, a significant number of workers do so. What if there is another way to look at it?

When you read advice articles on the subject, all the experts agree that you have to make a cut to really recharge your batteries… Last year, Marie-Ève Champagne gave us her advice on how to really disconnect.

However, in reality, a majority of professionals will succumb to the call. In the United States, 2 out of 3 workers admit to connecting to work while on vacation (Glassdoor, 2017). In Quebec, the proportion is lower, but there are still 2 out of 5 workers who take their emails and follow the progress of their files when they should rather have fun with their children at the beach (Ordre des CRHA, 2015) .

Are all these hyperconnected workers going the wrong way? Are they depriving themselves of restorative rest? There may however be another explanation for this intention to work (a little) during vacation. Here it is.

Too much unused time off

In 2018, author Maurie Backman brought an interesting perspective in an article published in USA Today. First, she recalled a survey showing that more than one in five Americans (21%) gave up taking all the time off they were entitled to in a year. The most plausible reason is that these workers feel they simply cannot take time off work.

We can’t just snap our fingers and make our workload disappear, but we shouldn’t stop ourselves from escaping the office for brief but necessary moments. The answer, therefore, lies in a strange but effective compromise: working during the vacation,” she explains.

In fact, by agreeing to respond to a few emails during the vacation, there is a good chance that we will be less anxious to leave our position vacant for a long time.

And if we could extend our vacation by one or two weeks…. Would it not be worth it? Being able to leave our city of residence earlier, knowing that we will be logging in for a day or two during the first week of vacation, for example.

This idea from 2018 is even more relevant in 2021, now that we are all working remotely.

Not without risk

In a 2018 survey conducted by Wrike, we learned that 18% of people who work during their vacation do so to better appreciate it. This worker/vacationer approach would bring peace of mind to some. However, last year, 18% of Quebec workers said that they came back more tired of the vacation than before their leave.

Of course, there is a point where too many logins can distract us from the vacation and ruin the primary goal, which is to enjoy the vacation, acknowledges Maurie Backman. But if you feel that working a little allows you to enjoy a trip more, and you do it by choice and not by obligation – then there’s nothing wrong with advancing in your work a little each day to have more peace of mind.”

The author insists that this decision must come from the worker and not from the employer. And expecting employees to login during their vacation should not become the norm at workplaces! She also suggests organizing your leave in the same way as it would be done during normal vacation times, by appointing a person to be contacted in case of emergency.

Vacation in “freelance” mode

A personal note to conclude. Working during the holidays, it must be said that this is the lot of many freelancers (I include myself in this group). Since I do not have a formal vacation – paid for by an employer – this is often the compromise I have chosen to make: keep a minimum availability, accept small mandates that are not too demanding, in order to reduce the financial impact of periods without income, during the Christmas and summer holidays.

Obviously, it requires understanding on the part of my spouse and my children, who would probably like to see me entirely on vacation, always with a free and light spirit. Ultimately, the compromise is to book “real, offline vacation days” during family travels.

Happy summer vacation!

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