Boss won't let you enjoy your holiday in peace: what can you do?

How to avoid being bombarded with messages from work while you’re away

Updated: 
young girl on the beach, typing os smartphone

The smart technology that was meant to free us up to work when and where we choose, has trapped us in 24-hour world of work, where it's almost impossible to escape from your boss. Research from the mental health charity Mind has found that a quarter of people have even been bothered by their boss while they were on holiday.

Shockingly, half of the people they surveyed said their manager does not respect that they have a life outside work, while nearly three in ten said they regularly check their email while they are away from the office.

Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, said: "With modern technology and our increasingly busy lives, the boundaries between our jobs and personal lives are becoming blurred. While many of us have to work outside normal office hours from time to time, we all need a break away from work in order to be at our best when we return. Encouraging a clear distinction between work and life is just one thing employers need to do to create a mentally healthy workplace. It's not acceptable for staff to be contacted while they're on annual leave unless it's an emergency and there's no alternative."


What can you do?

Mind his hoping that its work will encourage employers to introduce the kinds of policies and training that will enable workers to have a holiday in peace. However, if your boss fails to take the hint, and working on holiday is a huge part of your company culture, you will have to take action yourself in order to get a proper break.

1. Plan your holiday plenty of time in advance. Think about everything that's going on at work during the time you are away, and consider what anyone will require from you. Then make sure you produce everything you can before you go away.

2. Explain to your boss and your colleagues that you will not be contactable by email while you are away. Do this plenty of time in advance, and ask them to consider whether there is anything they could possibly need from you during that period - so you can sort it out in advance.

3. Do a proper handover document - including the status of everything you are working on. Include details of where important documents are saved, and log in details. According to a study by lastminute.com, these two things are the most common reasons to be contacted during a break.

4. Set up a useful 'out of office' email response. Don't just tell people you are away. Tell them you are away and out of contact and list the people who can help them instead. Talk to these people before you go away, so that everyone knows to expect calls to bounce their way.

5. Some people find it too stressful to cut themselves off, as they will worry about what's going on back home. By far the best solution is to find a way to overcome this stress, and take a mental break from it all. However, if it risks ruining your holiday, set up a call once every 3-5 days with a trusted colleague. They can save any questions for this call, and address anything urgent. You'll have to write off the few hours after the call, because it'll take time relax into your holiday again, but it should help you put things out of your mind for the rest of the break.

But what do you think? Do you mind work calls and emails when you are on holiday? And how do you avoid them?

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