In defence of holiday working

This might be a little bit controversial, this post. If you hate it please don’t be offended, it’s just my opinion. Totally open to being completely wrong always, especially here.

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about the importance of taking your leave, and encouraging your staff to take your leave, and I do think it’s super important to take leave, and I certainly think if you’re managing someone you should definitely encourage them to take their leave. There is more to life than work, and having your leave can even make you better at your job when you get back, so it’s win-win, you benefit and your job benefits.

However, I’ve had people tell me that it’s wrong that I sometimes work in my leave, because I’m setting a bad example to my staff. This I don’t agree with. Particularly now during COVID but really for the last decade my life has been limited by health problems (primary sclerosing cholangitis, chronic ulcerative colitis, and now hepatic arterial stenosis, but that’s another blog post) and my job has become something I can do that I love that I’m good at, replacing some of the other stuff I used to do (aikido and running, mainly). I’ve been isolating from my whole house on and off since March 2020 and my job really keeps me sane.

So although I may manage people I’m also a human being with my own emotional needs, and I choose to work sometimes in holidays and weekends because it makes me feel good to work and be productive. My whole team completely recognise my position and don’t at all feel any pressure to do likewise.

So I don’t agree with that. The other thing that I don’t agree with that I see sometimes is the idea that we should view others in our team or whom we manage working in the holidays as something “bad” that we need to “save” them from. The best boss I ever had was absolutely brilliant at taking leave. He would work 50+ hours a week and then in the holidays he would just disappear completely. No phone calls, no email, nothing. It was like he didn’t exist. And that was great, and I think it’s a really good example of doing something that works for you (ignoring the 50+ hours, not really advocating that, but he did work hard, put it that way).

But just like me I think some people blend their work in a bit more. They like to tickle their brain a bit in their holidays, maybe write some code that’s been bugging them, do a bit of reading, or write a blog post (writing blog posts absolutely should be part of your paid hours). It avoids the cliff edge stress of the last day before your holiday, because you can think “never mind, I’ll just knock that out in the middle of next week and email it over”. And if you then take a bit of time back for yourself in your core hours, that’s all good too. Because that’s one thing I am good at. I may work funny hours and at the weekend and in my leave but if I feel like having a three hour lunch break with a friend and nobody will miss me I do it without hesitation or guilt and that works really well for me.

So that’s it. I’m not saying “everyone should work in the holidays”, or even “you should try working in your leave, it’s great”. But I am saying that everyone is different, and some people like to blend their work and home lives together for lots of good reasons. As always, what’s important is understanding the needs of the people around us and respecting their autonomy and not coming up with social media friendly soundbites about what you should and shouldn’t do with your self or your team.

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