Working on holiday: Your views on the 'worliday'


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Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times wrote last week about a vision of the future where people would get more holiday - and do odd bits of work from the beach or mountain peak, with the help of smartphones, Blackberries and laptops to make up for it.

Readers responded to her proposal with hundreds of emails. Many told us that they, or their family members, had been doing this themselves - with varying results.

Keeping calm

Vicky Hampshire and family My husband is calmer if he's in touch with the office

My husband is a complete slave to his Blackberry. Holidays, day trips, queues in Disneyland - it's like the third child in our family. I often joke that had our first child not been born on Christmas Day, he would have been emailing the office between contractions. His Blackberry was, of course, firmly in one hand and my hand in the other!

I'd be lying if I said that the constant attachment didn't irritate me but I accept it. My husband is a lot calmer if he's able to keep in touch with what's happening in the office and is able to deal with things should the need arise. Clearing a few emails during quiet periods is after all a practical use of time! It also means that following a break he doesn't have to work even longer hours to catch up on things.

We all know the saying "All work and no play" isn't good so why should "All play and no work" be any different?

Vicky Wills, Hampshire, UK

Mother 'pestered'

What should it be called?

Many readers objected to Lucy Kellaway's term "worliday" and suggested instead:

  • Workation
  • Vocation Vacation
  • Workiday
  • Netsetting
  • Holiwork
  • Flextime
  • Textvac

As the child of someone who was (is) unable to leave work at work when we went on holiday, I found it incredibly frustrating. Mum would have to spend an hour or so answering emails before breakfast, then we'd be out enjoying some time together when her phone would ring. My brother and I would then have to sit twiddling our thumbs while she took the call.

If it becomes normal to take a "worliday" then nobody will ever truly get away again. My mum has been pestered by work while sipping tea at a plantation in Malaysia, while on a dive boat in Borneo, and while exploring the streets of Venice. No matter how far away she goes, it seems, they don't accept that she is on holiday.

I am just entering the workforce, and it saddens me to think that this could be me someday. My philosophy is that I work to live, yet it seems that the other way around is becoming the norm.

Camilla, UK

Morning and evening

Paul Dixon I hand over the Blackberry to my wife for safe-keeping

I need some separation between work and life. I need to know there's a break. In 2007, I can remember sitting on a beach in Hawaii, responding to an email. In 2008, on a trip back to the UK to see family, it was the same. At Oktoberfest even, in 2009. None of them were desperately urgent.

It finally dawned upon me in 2009 on a vacation to celebrate my wife's birthday. Responding to a seemingly innocuous email got me sucked into an email exchange which ate up most of a morning. I realised that I was missing a "connection" with my vacation and not coming back totally refreshed. Now I check the Blackberry in the morning (while my wife showers), answer any "urgent" emails, then hand it over to her for safe-keeping. I then enjoy the day "vacationing", and in the evening (while my wife changes for dinner), quickly check it again at the end of the day.

I love technology. I just love my free time more!

Paul Dixon, Portland, Oregon, US

Texts only

John Roberts and family Telephone calls have been massively cut down

After being criticised for not giving a mobile contact number in my out-of-office message I stole the technique of one of the best managers I worked for. All answering messages tell people to SMS me on my mobile. If they need me, I'll get back to them. If they can't invest a minute or so to write it down, then they don't really need me!

It has massively cut down calls - almost to zero. I only call in if one of our new starters has been left holding an issue to make sure they are feeling loved - they are usually doing fine, but like to tell me about it. Vacations are now 99% work-free!

John Roberts, Ashtead, UK

Just the fun stuff

Dev Handa I save the most creative work for holidays, if I can

I'm in architectural design. Maybe about 15% of my work time is spent on the "fun stuff" - pure design work which involves thinking and tinkering. I save these tasks, when I'm able to, for holiday time. I wake up, spend time with my wife while the kids sleep in, and then return to a table with a view of the pool or sea and someone to periodically ask me if I need refreshment.

During my work time, my wife and kids get some reading in and perhaps an extra dip or two while I listen to ELO or Genesis and happily work away on my laptop. Email and the smart phone, however, are off and I'm in relative isolation from the work world. Then everything is packed up until the next morning, and I'm back in the pool, in the sea, all during the most pleasant hours, from 4pm to 6:30pm - lovely light, tolerable sun, warm holiday glow.

I still, however, feel a massive pressure to complete more than I ought to prior to leaving.

Dev Handa, Ontario, Canada

Refusal to answer

David Nye I stopped responding to messages

I own a laptop, an iPad, and a Kindle. I am 65, a full-time professor with a specialisation in the history of technology - so I am quite interested in how people use and abuse new devices.

On my recent vacation I was pressured to make phone calls from France to Canada, asked to attend virtual meetings, and buried in emails of all sorts.

I quickly decided not to respond to any of it, and stopped looking at the emails.

I am normally working 45-50 hours a week, and need a complete break.

David Nye, Odense, Denmark

Twenty minutes a day

Mark Taylor I stopped a massive sales slide from the beach

My holiday routine is to check emails for 10 minutes in the morning, and 10 minutes in the evening. It helps me relax on holiday knowing that everything is going smoothly. As a senior director, it is my job to ensure that my colleagues get the support they need, even if I am not there.

Last year, while in the Maldives, we had a drop in sales. It took me 20 minutes to work out, from my laptop on the beach, where the problem was and then to advise on how to fix it. This helped prevent the company from going into a massive sales slide, resulting in my team delivering the best first-quarter results the company had had since 2006! Twenty minutes a day on holiday? It was well worth it.

Mark Taylor, Doncaster, UK


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  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    The question is 'Do you work to live or live to work?' The former will relax and enjoy a holiday. The latter will just tend to work in varying locations wether they are in the office or not. A lot of the latter also tend to be the 'martyr to the cause' types who think they are indespensable and everyone will be bowled over by their self sacrifice. They also tend to be rather stressed out as well!

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    If, even during you legally entitled leave, you feel the need to continually do your job, then it is the end of human downtime altogether. The corporatocracy has us firmly in their grip. As the phrase goes: "none are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." You are helping to usher in the age of a 7-day working week, and your children will hate you for it...

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    This is just another form of presenteeism - the need to appear to be working longer hours than your colleagues. We only have a certain number of productive hours each day, so generally presenteeism is a sign of inefficiency. Even more so if you cannot hand over responsibilities for a couple of weeks! And remember, no one ever said on their deathbed 'Gee I wish I'd spent more time at the office'!

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    Comment number 24.

    Is there is a right or wrong answer here? Some people need and appreciate a complete break, others will find that break more enjoyable if they spend 10 mins twice a day checking emails. Either sounds fine to me. It is those that allow work to dominate the break that perhaps need to find a way to cut back the work time - but some people won't want to - and surely that's their choice too?

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    I remember being on a sailing holiday as a child when my dad started answering calls from work. Eventually my mother warned him that one more call would result in the phone being chucked overboard. This is a policy I now enforce on holidays. It also stops colleagues being lazy as I warn them I will be away so if they need something they need to ask me well before I go. Worked so far!


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