Having moved with my family to the US last summer, I recently discovered that there was something called “Spring Break,” but I didn’t change my routine and posted the following “Out of Office” message before going on vacation:
Thank you for your email. I’m currently testing a new revolutionary App called “Holidays with the family” which has been developed by my daughters. With one click, it switches off all electronic devices, social media tools and internet connections. I know it’s like being back in the 20th century but it is only a one week experiment so I know I can count on your support and understanding until next Sunday. In the meantime, if you need immediate assistance, please contact …
The response from my friends, colleagues and clients was unanimous: they all loved it and commented positively. I came back a week later, the team was still there, no client had left and the world hadn’t collapsed!
In all fairness, it took me some time to realize it. The first year I started my company, I checked emails and voicemails every single day, several times per day. I came back exhausted while feeling very guilty because I had “left the base!” The second year, despite a strong urge, to “switch on,” I managed to unplug for a week and … since then, I do it every year two or three times per year! And guess what: it’s good for my business, it’s good for my family and it’s good for me!
The last days before leaving, I prepare the out of office message and switch it on a few hours before the close of business. At the end of the week, I take a 24 hours buffer to go through the messages at my leisure. Same with my voicemail which, upon return from Spring Break this year, had five messages … including one from my elder daughter who was checking on me!
Until recently, I always thought that this could only be possible if you were an entrepreneur, not a big shot in corporate. Then I read the article “Don’t disconnect, just unplugged” from David Sable, Global CEO of Y&R in which he wrote:
The real digital revolution recognizes that being unplugged adds to your ability to be plugged in. Because our technology solutions will only be as good as the people who make them.
And if we make our human interactions merely transactional, if we keep our thumbs active and our emotions still, if we lose the ability to connect as people, down the road I’d wager the technology will suffer, too.
I couldn’t agree more and have to revise my opinion: whatever the size of your company, whatever your level of responsibility, the more you’ll be able to unplug, the better you and your business will be.
When are you doing it?