You're on vacation with your family and your smartphone notifies you about a work email entitled "URGENT!" What do you do? Checking the message could mean hours spent putting out a fire at the office. Ignoring it will give you more time with your family, but you'll be distracted and stressed the whole time thinking about the worst-case scenario.
The Perils of Vacationing with Your Smartphone
Welcome to vacationing in the mobile age. Thanks to mobile devices like smartphones, vacations no longer feel like vacations due to devices blurring the line between work time and free time. In theory, working on-the-go sounds great because an organization can squeeze more work out of its employees, but in actuality, an always-connected mobile workforce may be doing more harm than good due to rest being sacrificed in the name of productivity.
Sure, everybody says that vacation time and rest are good (95 percent of senior business leaders say they know the value of taking time off), but mobile technology puts this value to the test. If you value productivity more than rest, then you're going to bring your smartphone to the beach and have yourself a working vacation. Granted, working from the beach is immensely better than working from the office, but working while you're supposed to be resting means that rest isn't taking place.
It's Okay to Take a Break
This leads us to a point that many business owners don't get: true and uninterrupted rest is a good thing. For business owners in particular, uninterrupted rest is difficult because it means letting go and taking a break from controlling every aspect of their business. A smartphone allows business owners to keep their finger on the pulse of their company, even while they're "resting." According to a study by Travel Effect:
When senior leaders do take time off, almost half (46 percent) continue to answer email, and nearly a third (29 percent) keep making work calls (meaning their families aren't getting much of them during vacation either!). All in all, only 37 percent of senior leaders say they unplug completely from work on vacation.
Why Do Americans Hate Vacations?
The American workforce in particular is a bad about this as many workers choose not to take their vacation time. In fact, a recent study by the U.S. Travel Association found that 40 percent of American workers will leave paid vacation days unused this year. The Huffington Post reports on the reasons Americans gave for not using their vacation days:
The four reasons cited the most are the dread of returning from a vacation to piles of work (40 percent), the belief that no one will be able to step in and do their job for them while they're gone (35 percent), not being able to afford it (33 percent), and the fear of being seen as replaceable (22 percent).
FYI, the average amount of paid vacation in countries like Australia and Germany is seven weeks, compared to one week in the United States. Additionally, the Travel Effect survey points out that American companies aren't good about encouraging employee rest and vacation time: "67 percent of employees say their company is either silent about taking vacation, sends mixed signals about it, or even actively discourages it."
Vacationing Reduces Stress and Saves You Money
It may be challenging for a committed worker to turn off their smartphone and disconnect from the office during their vacation, but uninterrupted rest is the best way to diffuse stress, recharge, and increase focus and motivation--which will do more for productivity than always feeling the stress of being connected.
Still not convinced that unplugging from work is the best move for your business? According to the World Health Organization, stress costs American businesses around $300 billion per year, and sleep deprivation adds an additional $63 billion to this total. Bottom line, you can't afford not to take an uninterrupted vacation and leave your smartphone at home, as counterintuitive as that seems.
For your next vacation, make it a true vacation by unplugging from the office. Your business will still be around when you get back, and the team you've hired and trained should be capable of keeping operations going in your absence. Now that you've made the decision to take a true vacation, where do you plan on going? Tell us your vacation destination in the comments!