Turn off the tech – how to switch off over the holidays

23 Dec 2010

One in four Irish workers can’t switch off during holidays, a survey from IrishJobs.ie suggested, despite the benefits of taking a break.

Taking a breather from the daily rush and stress of workdays lets workers rest, recharge, gain perspective, and be ready to return to work and be productive.

In the current economic climate, perhaps it’s the desire of wanting to ensure there is a job to come back to that keeps employees plugged into the office while they’re supposed to be not working. 

Here are general tips to help office workers switch off for the holidays:

1.   Set boundaries and out-of-office notifications.

Utilise the out-of-office function in email, with an automated reply to the sender that tells them you are away from (date) to (date) and that you will respond to emails and voice-mail messages when you return. Set any work-related outgoing voice-mail messages to say the same. Then do it – do not check work messages and work email while you are off. 

If absolutely necessary, leave an emergency number with your manager or boss at which you can be reached, and consider defining what constitutes an emergency (fire, flood, server crash, Osama bin Laden, for examples).

2.   Turn off the work laptop and work mobile phone.   

Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University Management School, suggests considering whether there is any real need to have a work laptop and work mobile phone with you, and whether they really need to be turned on. Don’t take any work home with you, either. Obviously, try to wrap up priorities and as much as you can before your break. Anything else can likely wait until the new year.

3.   Speak to your boss or manager.

Clarify what is expected of you, if anything, over the holidays, so you won’t be having Christmas dinner feeling anxious about work.  Are you expected to be on call for whatever reason, for example, and if so, will that be every day of your holidays or for just a few days?

4.   Maintain perspective.

Remember this, too: Odds are many other employees are off during the holiday period, as well, so you may not receive many messages to begin with and it’s probably more unlikely anything requiring your immediate attention will happen.