A small out of office victory on a ‘sacred’ vacation - Nick Freer

When you run a business, it’s hard to really get away from it all, so it was with something short of a full level of commitment that I switched my out-of-office reply on this week while on holiday with the family in Spain.

A 2019 survey by LinkedIn found that almost two-thirds of professionals admitted to checking in while they were away, with over 80 per cent of Generation Z emailing or taking calls when on vacation.

Of course, things have changed since 2019, the pandemic pretty much took care of that. And because we’ve all spent so much time out of the office, being ‘OOO’ has got a different meaning these days anyhow.

Because we’ve not been able to vacation abroad for the last couple of years, I think there’s a general feeling that holidays have become more sacred. But that can also add pressure in wanting to have a perfect holiday, in no small part to make up for all the ones we’ve lost.

Nick Freer is the founding director of strategic communications agency the Freer Consultancy

While I’ve tried to be quite relaxed about going on vacation (admittedly it helps that my wife organised the whole thing), I definitely had high expectations jetting off to the Mediterranean this time around – from a smooth airline/airport experience (haha, fail), a nice apartment with all the mod cons, good food and wine, a couple of fun day trips and, most of all, for us all to have a nice time together.

Doing a very small straw poll of my own, I asked my daughter if she was having a good time and what score she would give the holiday out of ten. “Nine”, she said. “What”, I asked her, “would make it a ten?” “Not having to share a bedroom with my brother,” was her reply. Standard sibling sentiment.

In his book, the Art of Travel, modern-day philosopher and author Alain de Botton is excited by the prospect of going on holiday to Barbados until the reality sets in that he will have to take his complicated self to his Caribbean destination.

It’s fair to say the last couple of years have been complicated and, although we homo sapiens are a resilient lot, I do think it has taken a toll on all of us, to a lesser or greater extent.

I was out for a beer with a friend, who also happens to be a well known entrepreneur, a few weeks’ back who was extolling the virtues of personal development coaching. To work on mindset, stay positive, improve focus on work and home life, and generally live a more fulfilling life.

To his credit, literally, this gentleman of a guy who I am fortunate to call a pal said he wanted to pay for my first session at a local practice he has used and recommends. In the week that I celebrate a big birthday, I’m going to take him up on his kind offer. I can be resistant to change, but also realise the importance of wellbeing, so maybe this old dog can learn some new tricks.

And how did I do at checking my email inbox while on holiday? I actually got to day four without checking in. For me, that counts as a personal record. Small victories.

Nick Freer is the founding director of strategic corporate communications agency the Freer Consultancy

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