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 22.

    @14, thats a nice attitude to have, and I agree. But in some companies there are too few staff, too much work to do, bullying is rife, and nobody else in the workplace seems to care you are ready to jump off a bridge. There's also little point in a family if you can't feed them or have no roof over your head either, and some of the owners of these companies are aware of this fact, and use it.

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    Comment number 21.

    I am a "mature" adopter of tech comms, I take a laptop and use a smartphone on holiday to work on my hobby of photography as I have the time away to do it. Dipping into email helps oil the wheels back at work if necessary, saves hassle when I get back, stops me fretting and therefore relax more. No big deal! the pros of modern technology work for me.The cons:nobody makes independent decisions.

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    Comment number 20.

    In a world where we're increasingly in work off our feet because work on our feet doesn't pay as well, risking all the potential negative health effects of a sedentary lifestyle, I'd do anything to spend more time working anywhere else!

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    Comment number 19.

    Luckily for me, now I have a diamond Manager, who will not phone me unless it is REALLY urgent. But I still leave the phone on, I can't seem to help myself.....I do enjoy my job, and would like to keep it in the long term, so I make a point of careing about the business enough to check my phone a couple of times a day. Not when I go to Tunisia though, I will be leaving it at home then lol.

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    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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    Comment number 17.

    When you run your own business you are always contactable by a choosen few - both staff and clients.

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    Comment number 16.

    I am 100% behind more holiday and having to be in some reduced contact (for the extra holiday ONLY). Why not?! I wouldn't want to be doing anything laborious, but if it's taking an hour out to answer a few emails, cooridinate some work or edit some report, then fine. In academia I don't know many who ever fully disconnect from work.The only risk is a holiday spoiled by work worries!

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    A holiday is supposed to be a holiday!!!

    Are you really that vital that a company cannot operate without you for 1 or 2 weeks? Just remember that if you fall ill or worse the company will continue without you, others will cope, no one is indispensible. It is far better to have a total break and be better for it than eventally burn out.

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    Comment number 14.

    I thought the whole point of a holiday was to get away from the stresses of work life and enjoy your free time and life while you have it! Life's too short to not enjoy yourself and your family. What's the point in a family if you don't spend proper quality time with them. It's time to leave work at work and have a home life like we used to do, eg. Sundays used to be a family day!

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    I had an 18 hour a day job once....the phone even went off in the middle of the night because the company I worked for was so understaffed it was ridiculous. Legally, they broke the law. But I had bills to pay, and was told if I didn't like it I could leave. Beware, all those who want to climb the ladder of will work twice as hard for a slightly greater reward, with little thanks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    I think it all depends on how much you value you're employment. Legally, you are entitled by LAW to undisturbed time off work. However, the invention of the mobile phone, laptop etc have made that impossible. Add to that, the type of job where everybody else seems to prefer to pick up the phone rather than work it out for themselves, and you have 'disturbed free time'.

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    Comment number 11.

    I answer emails/texts on holiday (although at scheduled 'quiet' times only) because it gives me confidence that my staff don't feel completely alone in my absence.

    As my staff are a small team (6/7 people) I don't have the luxury of a management structure to look after things when I'm not there so makes sense to be proactive than have to pick up the pieces when I return.

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    Comment number 10.

    Reading this, all I can think is, these sad, sad people. When I go on holiday, my work mobile and my laptop stay firmly at home. My manager knows my personal mobile number so that, if there is a real emergency (ie, the office burns down while I'm away), he can let me know, but other than that people can either wait until I get back, or they can ask someone else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    They would need to pay me a lot more for me to answer calls and emails on holiday. I think these people need to disconnect otherwise they might burn out

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    Comment number 8.

    On hoilday = complete break from work. No one thanks you for mixing the two !

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    I think I might be unusual as a man in that my family comes first and works comes very distinctly second - I refuse to be defined by my job. I work hard and well at my job but when I am on holiday all work technology is left at home. No wonder we are so stressed as a nation, when it is becoming unacceptable to take a full, complete break.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    It's not possible for everyone but I completely detach myself from work while I'm on holiday to focus on time with my family and friends - have given my wife permission to bludgeon me with my phone or tablet if I ever become a slave to them and she seems happy to oblige!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    why is there a 400 character limit???

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Unfortunately this didn't prevent someone else from calling him whilst we were on a river boat cruising down the rhine. Mum took the phone off my dad and threw it in the river. Cue massive arguements and another family holiday ruined by work

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    I remember a few years ago on a family holiday my dad kept answering the phone. To begin with my mum just huffed, then she had a go at my dad. One time whilst dad was driving she answered the phone for him and spent 10minutes explaining to the poor unlucky caller that we were on a family holiday and not to call for the next week.


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