Remote work makes it easier than ever to take a work holiday – you can travel to a new place, log in during the day and essentially get away without having to use PTO days. But many people return from these “vacations” even more burnt than when they left.
About 61% of Americans who have taken a vacation in the past year do not consider it a “real” vacation, according to Expedia’s latest vacation deprivation a survey of 14,500 working adults in 16 countries. Moreover, 72% of people who have worked during the holidays report feeling more burnt than ever.
Melanie Fish, head of Expedia Group Brands’ global PR, knows this from experience. During the pandemic, she tried to take a vacation from a rental house in the woods, “and it was actually stressful for me to hear my family get ready for a hike while I was trying to answer an email,” she said. “It taught me that not every trend is good.”
Fish admits that it takes “age and experience” to feel comfortable taking a week off work and getting off the net. But she also sees this as a necessary management skill and models it for her employees: “As a leader, you don’t do your job if your team can’t do without you for a few days.”
Expedia Group employees receive 15 to 25 paid weekends and up to $ 1,500 to reimburse travel and wellness expenses annually. They also get access to special discounts for hotels and travel through their platforms.
Fish admits that a long vacation break can come back to bite her, as he recently returned from a week-long trip to a Florida beach with 3,000 unread emails. Here she shares her secret to a smooth transition from vacation mode to work mode, plus what she learned from her European counterparts and the brutal advice she would give her 25-year-old self to test her ego.
Her secret to switching from vacation to work mode: I like to keep it a secret that I have been back for as long as possible. I’ve been out of the office a little longer than I’m actually out of the office, and I didn’t set Slack up to be active until I caught up with what happened last week. It doesn’t always work. But just because I get back to the office at 8 a.m. Monday after a few weekends doesn’t mean people need me at 8 a.m. Monday.
So go ahead and block this calendar for a few hours. Keep this message out of the office on. Keep Slack inactive. Give yourself a chance to enter at a reasonable pace.
How to respond to a manager who does not respect free time: I’ve had amazing bosses with whom I’m super clear – “I’m taking this break, I’m not going to check my email, here’s who to contact or please email me if you really need me” – and they respected that.
I once had a boss who looked at me in disbelief and said, “Well, I’ve just never heard of a person in your job who isn’t constantly emailing, even on vacation.” At that moment, I had to take a deep breath, stand up, and say, “If you need something different, please clarify that, and we can talk about it. But I don’t check my email all the time when I’m on a personal holiday. “
It is the responsibility of company executives to model good behavior and not only encourage people to take their free time, but not punish them for it.
How to reduce your workload to free up space for rest: When you get a break from work, look at the appointments scheduled for this Monday and think, “Should I reschedule this appointment for Tuesday or can we leave it for this week?” finish the next day?
What she learned from her European colleagues: It helps to have a team in Europe. They don’t get involved with the rest and that’s inspiring. My European colleagues do not feel the need to apologize for the leave they are taking – and they should not. They have holidays. Summer is turning into an extremely slow time. And because it’s universal in culture, not just within a company, it normalizes the need for rest instead of doing something that makes you uncomfortable not working.
What would you say to yourself at the age of 25 for a vacation: I would say to my 25-year-old, “You’re not so important that your job can’t be done without you in a few days.” I would say that to my own 25-year-old self. I will not tell the 25-year-olds of my team. I hope I’m modeling this behavior, so I don’t need to say it.
The ability to turn it off completely during the holidays came with age and experience. There was absolutely a time when I felt the need to be constantly connected to what was happening at work. And looking back, I’m not so sure it was my expectations at work as it was my own ego, which I thought I just wouldn’t be able to get through until I took three days off. And that’s just stupid.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.