Mobile technology traps us in the working world: Here’s why, and 6 ways to solve this


Bosses can’t say “bye”

Every exec’s worst nightmare is becoming a reality: “The Vacation That Never Was.”

Taking two weeks off work isn’t the same as it was half a century ago, according to myriad studies and surveys, which have come to reveal that modern employees – particularly those in managerial ranks – cannot seem to truly escape the workplace while on holiday leave.

A recent poll of CFOs, or chief financial offers, evidently brings this grim theory to light: Two-thirds of poll participants reported that they check in with their office at least one to two times per week during their so-called holidays. Of this alarmingly high number, one in five checked in at least once per day, 23 percent stuck to just once or twice per week, and 15 percent reported connecting with their office “several times a week.,” according to the Robert Half Management Resources survey.

The cause for constant connection

It’s not that we necessarily want to connect with work while “relaxing” on the beach, but mobile technology – smartphones, laptops, netbooks, and wireless internet – has made it so easy, most of us can’t resist.

“While the rise of mobile technology is making it easier to stay connected, it is important for executives to relax and re-energize on vacation,” David King, president of Robert Half’s Canadian operations, told B.C.’s The Province daily. High-ranked employees are especially over-stressed and over-worked in today’s corporate world, making it all the more important to fully embrace your time off work.

The solutions

These tips will allow managers to breathe easy while away.

1. Ensure that contacts and clients know you’re away. If they don’t, they won’t know their call is interrupting your margarita. And you won’t know how to enjoy your margarita if you’re responding to client demands – even if their is sand in your toes.

2. Appoint temporary contact redirections. You can’t just tell people not to call you without offering an alternative. Let them know who’s best to call during your absence.

3. Pick your time wisely. Of course, everybody wants to head out during the peak times of each season, but if  possible, take your vacation during a light period, and/or when other key staff aren’t also vacationing. Maybe you’ll miss out on the prime week you wanted, but you also won’t have a weight on your shoulder saying, “Why are you soaking up the sun, pal? Your work needs you now.”

4. Designate a semi-replacement. If at all possible, appoint a (preferably) senior and trusted employee to manage some of your day-to-day responsibilities during your absence. Do so far in advance for fairness to them, and be prepared to return the favour down the line.

5. Distribute assignments. Spread out some of the necessary tasks and projects among available employees so your work will still get done, and no single employee gets overworked covering your absence.

6. Drop that device! If you absolutely must connect with work on vacation, set aside a day of the week or an hour of the day to do it – and leave the mobile devices out of sight and of mind the rest of the time.