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7 Tips for Truly Unplugging From Work During a Vacation

In the modern business world, workers’ accessibility does not end when they leave the office or even when they leave the city, state, or country. Thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones, most members of the workforce can be easily reached no matter where they are, what they are doing or what hour of the day (or night) it might be. And while this could create significant and wide-ranging benefits for a business’s productivity and agility, it can also make it hard for workers to ever step away from the job truly and relax.

Of course, this can also defeat the purpose of a vacation, when workers are supposed to take some extended time off to forget about the woes of the workday, relax and recharge. But fortunately, even with the seemingly ever-present smartphone in tow, a real escape from the office and its stressors is not impossible. Workers looking to truly unplug from their work responsibilities on their vacations should consider these seven tactics to help them truly leave work behind, get out of reach and relax:

  1. Plan (and work) ahead: Workers who have important projects nearing completion or significant project milestones approaching in the weeks before their vacation can consider putting in some extra hours before departing to get things squared away and in a manageable place before they head out. By wrapping up key tasks before leaving the office, these workers will be able to avoid setting out for their getaways with lingering work-related worries on their mind. Otherwise, making efforts to ensure that all vital tasks have been delegated and that all key clients and colleagues have been prepared for the upcoming absence can go a long way toward providing the worker peace of mind while away.
  1. Designate a reliable backup: Another key to a worry-free office absence is for workers to know their projects and other responsibilities are in good hands. Rather than choosing a random colleague as a backup, workers should be careful to pick a colleague they trust to represent them well while they are out. To take the preparation one step further (and to properly thank the backup), a departing worker could even consider treating his or her “in charge” to a meal before leaving. During the outing, time could be spent proactively preparing the backup for any responsibilities that might arise during the absence. When preparing an out-of-office email message, the vacationing worker should be sure to provide all the backup’s contact information and to let those receiving the automatic reply know that any time-sensitive queries or tasks should be directed to this person.
  2. Establish agreed-upon ground rules: All the employees in an office are, of course, on the same team. And everyone on the team will want to take an uninterrupted vacation when their time comes around. As such, it is mutually beneficial for those left in the office to adequately cover for their vacationing colleagues while they are away.

Having a team discussion to express the mutual benefits of such cooperation and to clearly establish what each team member’s responsibilities will be while a colleague is out can help the entire staff develop a team pact to have one another’s back. Knowing that their colleagues have them covered can also help each team member truly unplug and dispel any work-related worries while on vacation. Further, one topic the team should be sure to discuss during these talks is to clearly define what constitutes the kind of “emergency” that merits contacting a vacationing colleague.

  1. Leave the laptop behind: This is a simple tactic, but it can be an outsized contributor to a truly unplugged vacation. Vacationing workers should leave all their work-related devices at home when they go for a getaway, including any designated work laptops, tablets, or phones. This way, vacationing workers can be reached via their personal devices if a true emergency arises at the office while they are away but can avoid the flood of work-related messages they would see if they brought a work device with them … not to mention the temptation to check in on work.
  1. Ditch the devices for a while: To truly unplug, vacationing workers should endeavor to spend some time away from the “real world” alerts that are constantly delivered to modern devices, even their personal ones. Leaving all devices back in the hotel room or vacation home for the occasional, technology-free outing is one way for workers to ensure they spend at least stretches of their vacation in the moment and free from the distractions of modern technology. Another tactic that still allows for emergency contact when needed is to utilize the “Do Not Disturb” feature of any smartphone brought along on such an outing. This can allow for stretches devoted strictly to rest and relaxation on the beach, at the spa or pursuing whatever activity brings the vacationing worker peace and comfort.
  1. Get an app assist: Most smartphones offer built-in apps that monitor the amount of time a user spends on his or her phone. They will also allow for personal limitations to be set on screen time. On Apple devices, Screen Time allows for such configurations to be made and on Android devices, Digital Wellbeing can be used for this purpose. Whether a worker uses these apps in his or her daily life or not, employing them while on vacation can help ensure he or she spends some time enjoying being away from device-related distractions during a getaway.
  1. Ease back in: Few employees enjoy the abrupt return to work that follows a lengthy vacation. To make the return to the office less jarring, workers returning from a getaway can consider easing back into the routine by taking a half-day (or whatever partial-workday arrangement might work best) devoted to catching up on missed emails and phone calls before fully getting back to the grind.

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