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Checking Email on Vacation?

The days are longer and the weather is much, much hotter. So I don’t think I have to spell it out for you for you to know that summer is upon us. And what is it that goes along with summer almost every year? V.A.C.A.T.I.O.N! Families and workers all over the country loom forward to that getaway where you can sit back, relax and enjoy the time with your loved ones. Of course, vacations for some may not be quite as relaxing as others, but the main point sticks: it’s time off. So what happens when work invades your personal time? To answer your email or not to answer your email. That seems to be the question.

Just a couple weeks ago, Spark News posted an infographic that took a look at the number of people that check their email during vacation. Only 3 percent of those surveyed stated that they never answer work emails or take business calls while on vacation. Does that mean that of the people that were surveyed 97 percent admittedly check their email during their vacation time? When I saw this graphic, I was shocked. After all, isn’t vacation time supposed to be time for fun and relaxation? A time to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life? In fact, we can really take a look at the semantics here and see what vacation really means. By definition, vacation is an extended period of recreation, esp. one spent away from home or in traveling. In my mind, there is no room for work during recreation time.

On the other hand, I took some time to really think about this predicament and realized that if you neglect all of your emails during your vacation, that stress you worked off while relaxing may quickly seep back into your life when you come back to work and see how many messages you have to plow through on top of your leftover work. Eek. Just a couple days worth of emails could pile up to 50 or 60 messages, but if you were gone for a week, forget it! That is the argument that most employees give for checking their email over their vacation. It’s simply a tactic to avoid piles of work upon their return.

That’s not the only reason though. Another fact of the matter is that some employers simply expect their employees to be connected while they are on vacation. In fact, many employers will advise their employees to take their laptop or phone with them so that they can stay connected and be reached whenever. This may make some employees gasp in horror, but for many it’s the reality of the situation. Regardless of what your work situation is, it’s really important for you to speak with your employers and to understand what is expected of you. If you leave to go on vacation and don’t take any of your work materials, you may come back to a very upset manager. Be honest and keep it real. If you are going to a place that is somewhat off the grid and you will be unable to access the internet or connect in anyway, that needs to be made clear.

If you do choose to stay connected, make sure your employer knows that you are not going to be answering every email you receive (unless, of course, you want to.) Answer the important emails and flag the other ones for a later date. That way, when you get back you have a hold on some things and know what needs your immediate attention. No matter how you choose to mesh work and vacation, if at all, the most important thing is to communicate with your employer. You’d be surprised how far a little communication goes and how much smoother it can make your time away, as well as your return.

IMAGE: Courtesy of AskMen

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter