In 2018, Americans had a total of 705 million unused vacation days, and of those, 212 million days were forfeited. Who’s leaving those days behind? It’s a staggering 52% of us!
Why is this? It comes down to optics in the workplace. Employees say they are worried they can’t take vacation without getting behind at work, that nobody in the office can do their job while they’re out, and that even if they were to take a vacation, their job won’t let them disconnect.
The ironic thing is that if you want to be a healthier, more motivated, engaged and productive employee, it’s important to use your vacation days. Plus, who doesn’t want to get away to sandy beaches with balmy breezes and a piña colada?! We’re here to break down how to take vacation without getting behind at work. Tell that little voice inside of your head that yes, you do need to take a vacation. And by using these tips you won’t be one of those people coming back thinking, “I need a vacation to recoup from my vacation!”
Be The (Wo)man With A Plan
Before you leave, it’s important to leave your work in order. Get through all the emails you can in your inbox. Send a list of to-do’s or things that might come up while you’re on vacation to your backup or supervisor. And, do whatever you can to get ahead.
“I always have my content calendar done for at least three days beyond when I return, so I don’t have to worry about that right away when I get back,” shares I Want Her Job reader Becca. Another reader, Angela, tells us, “I delegate as much as possible before I go. I ask team members to hold emails, if possible, until I return so I don’t have to spend two days getting un-buried from email.
The Art Of The Out-Of-Office
Setting the right out-of-office is key. A good message always includes three things – the dates you are gone/will return, who someone can reach out to in your absence, and sets expectations on your response. While some of us like responding when we’re on the road, others like to disconnect completely. Feel less guilt when you leave, and when you return, by telling others when they can expect you to respond. “I have my out-of-office on so others know to anticipate a delay in my response time,” Stephanie says.
Our suggestion: Set it and forget it. But first, be sure to double and triple check for typos! Few things are more cringe-worthy in an email than sending a simple mistake out to every person who emails you.
On The Fly
If you must, you can always work on the airplane. Wrap those Bose headphones around your ears, and use the few hours in-air sans interruption (or meetings!) to power through your work. Better yet? Pre-load your laptop with everything you’ll need. “I charge my laptop, and I leave documents I need to finish open, so I just open the laptop and see them,” says I Want Her Job reader Kris. “I never connect to WiFi, because I load up an hour or two of work.”
Worried about a pesky stranger reading your every word? Invest in a screen protector. Many options are available for less than $18 and will prevent those sitting next to you, flight attendants and aisle walkers from seeing something you don’t want them to see.
Why not make your work travel work for you? Have a work trip scheduled from Los Angeles to New York? We bet you’re dreading a full day of travel and the stress that comes with it. Instead, consider adding a weekend layover! For example, fly to Denver, a shorter flight, on Thursday night. Then work remote in one of Best Western Hotels & Resorts’ modern, multi-functional rooms on Friday, and go out and explore the new city you’re visiting that night! Then, pick up a flight from Denver to New York for your work travel week. (Just think of all the Instagram photos you could get!)
Plus, all of Best Western’s 4,200+ locations offer free Wi-Fi, making it easy and cost-effective to stay connected to your work any time day or night.
Be A Filing Pro
I Want Her Job reader Becca has a helpful tip for those of us who happen to open our work email after sharing photos of our trip on Instagram. “My emails get filed based on project as they come in. When I get back, I can go through ones I know will be the most important/timely first and then go from there.”
Another tip? Forward an email to a colleague and ask them to respond on your behalf. It can give someone else a different work experience, and it can help you alleviate the fear of coming back to a full inbox.
Be The Change
Gandhi once famously said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” If you’re a manager, walk your talk. Encourage your employees to take all of their vacation days. Make sure to tell them that it’s okay for them to recharge, and support them in this effort. Encourage them to tuck their phones away, and offer to serve as a backup for them.
And, in order to really make your team feel like they can take their vacation days, make an example. Don’t be the boss who encourages vacation but never takes it. Take time for yourself to recharge. If you bake this into your team’s culture, we’re sure they’ll be willing to take some of your workload off your hands while you’re taking time to travel.
With prior planning, flexibility and working with your teammates, you can take that beach vacation without getting behind at work! As frequent travelers ourselves on the I Want Her Job team, we rely on Best Western for our hotel stays. With cozy beds, a rewards program that saves us money, and locations in nearly every market we travel to, they’re our go-to for helping us vacation like pros.