Work culture in North America has had a huge problem for a very long time. When it comes to taking time off from work, we’re terrible at it. The pandemic shed light on the subject for us, and now we realize how unhealthy it’s been to stay connected even when we’re off the clock. Let’s look at how difficult it is for professionals to unplug during their PTO and what we can do about it.
How Can You Properly Unplug During Your Time Off?
Part of the problem with disconnecting during time off is the increased connectivity as a part of our daily lives. We are permanently attached to our cell phones, which connect to everything in our lives, including work emails or messages. We are so reliant on this digital technology that the idea of turning the phone off or not having it even on vacation can create anxiety. The only real solution for this problem is setting boundaries around PTO. Don’t check work emails, don’t answer work messages, and only use the phone for taking photos and studying maps.
Fear of Retaliation
Another obstacle in the way of unplugging during time off is the fear of retaliation in the workplace. Many people choose not to take time off or check in while they’re gone because they’re worried that the company will discover they can do without them. Work culture doesn’t do much to ease this anxiety. Management needs to enforce time off and instill a sense of belonging that doesn’t include this level of fear.
Need for Control
Sometimes we’re unable to disconnect because we have an internal need for control. This is often also a symptom of anxiety, but it can interfere with time away from the office. If you call the office while on vacation because you don’t trust others to do the work you left them with, this is also a significant issue with unplugging. Instead, we need to build trust within the workplace so everyone feels comfortable leaving the work in someone else’s hands.
How to Balance Life and Work
So what is the solution for staying disconnected from work while taking personal time off? It involves discipline, honesty, trust, and collaboration. Creating a good work/life balance means you must put systems in place that facilitate time off and increase workplace productivity. Cultivating the right environment from management down will be critical to enforcing good PTO policies.
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