The summer solstice is upon us–just two short weeks away. So, now that the season for sun and fun is here, how can we continue to achieve productivity in the office without sacrificing opportunities for relaxation?
There is a bizarre misconception in our working American society: vacation time hurts our productivity. But does it really?
For many of us, taking a vacation is difficult simply for the preparation involved. And no, I’m not talking about the stress that comes with transportation plans, hotel bookings, excursions, and packing; though I can’t deny these factors are, at times, just as miserable to deal with. Many would agree that preparing our work lives for the “interruption” of vacation is beyond stressful. We find ourselves bogged down days or even weeks prior to our time off in order to get things organized and set for when we are away. All because we instinctively feel that taking a vacation will inevitably set us back light years in our productivity.
In fact, for some the thought of what taking time off will do to a timeline at work is enough of a reason to abandon vacation time altogether! According to Project: Time Off, 41% of people did not use their allotted PTO in 2014. This percentage is simply absurd and, forgive me for saying, flat out nuts! Take your vacation time people! Because whether you choose to believe it or not, there is a very good reason why employees are provided paid time off.
For one, vacation time is extremely beneficial to companies. According to the U.S. Travel Association, employees who invest in downtime are more creative, less stressed and less likely to burn out. As we have discussed on The Methodology Blog previously, taking vacation makes you more valuable:
Taking the time off that you have earned will actually boost your productivity. It increases morale within the company as well as increases employee satisfaction and retention.
Logically speaking, the last thing any company wants is to lose a valuable member of its staff because he/she feels overwhelmed and overworked. No. Companies provide personal time off as a benefit for their employees, but it’s hard to argue against the fact that doing so also enhances the overall positive working environment with which business is conducted.
Secondly, it’s time to recognize that vacation time is our mental and physical refreshment time. When we don’t take a break from the stresses of our daily routines, eventually our brains begin to fizzle and crack under the pressure. Suddenly, we find ourselves not only stressed and exhausted, but physically unwell to boot. Theresa Goodwin, founder of BoldThink Creative, explained the benefits of getting away:
. . . taking time off has been proven to greatly reduce stress and be good for your health. As we know, stress can take its toll on you and increase your chances of heart disease, high blood pressure and weight gain, among many other things.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, taking vacation from work reaffirms our priorities. We all know the expression, work to live don’t live to work. By taking a step back and escaping the office, we are able to focus on what’s really important and why we are motivated to work in the first place. Vacation is a time to reconnect and strengthen both our relationships and our passions outside the workforce.
Dan Finnigan, president and CEO of Jobvite, highlights this concept in the article Is It Okay to Take Summer Vacation?:
The most important thing a leader can do is to remind your workforce about something obvious that is not so obvious when one is immersed in the job and career – that life is not about work alone, but about family and friends and other pursuits. The best way you can do this is by taking your own vacations from time to time. Show your employees that they won’t be judged as less productive simply because they need a few weeks off to recharge their batteries. Build a culture that values happiness and health above hours spent at a desk.
If you are someone who rarely takes time off–rest assure you’re not alone–I hope this post resonates with you. And if nothing else, please remember that taking time away from your desk is a vital component when finding satisfaction and contentment in your job. Whether it’s a long weekend over the summer or a week long stint between the winter holidays, the hours you spend recuperating are hours you’ll gain in refreshed productivity in the office!