Midwinter may be a perfect time to take that interruption-free vacation you want and need.
While the Internet and smartphones have made our lives infinitely more efficient, convenient and entertaining, they have also made it possible for employers to reach us anytime, anywhere.
The sad result is that some bosses now operate as if we are always available. Worse, interruptions are often for trivial matters that could wait or be solved by someone else.
Who could blame you for vacationing in a place with no cell service or Wi-Fi?
But before you book that trip to Siberia, here are some tips for pulling off an interruption-free vacation:
- Schedule your time off well in advance, choosing a period when your workplace is less busy than usual or when fewer people take vacations — like midwinter, for example.
- Arrange for a reliable colleague to cover for you. (You’ll reciprocate later.)
- Prepare a thorough status report of all your projects and tasks. Include contact information for your stand-in, as well as for other relevant team members.
- About a week before your vacation, touch base with your boss. Give him/her your status report and stress that everything is under control, as well as how grateful you are for the upcoming time off and how much you’re looking forward to coming back with renewed enthusiasm and vigor. Mention your willingness to respond to true emergencies.
- Don’t forget to create an out-of-office email and voicemail notice that states your return date and provides the contact info for whom to contact in your absence.
- If you are going to a place with no cell service, notify your boss and co-workers well in advance.
- Consider bringing back a “treat” for the workplace — a box of candy, say, or basket of fruit.
It’s not illegal for your boss to call, text and email you on your vacation — or even to demand that you cancel your trip and immediately return to work. No U.S. laws mandate vacation leaves, and employers have free rein to set the terms of any time off they do allow.
This doesn’t mean you should skip that vacation, however. Uninterrupted, quality downtime is good for your health and your relationships. It also makes us better and more valuable employees.
Fortunately, most employers know this. For those who don’t, see above.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.