Working on Vacation

A recent survey shows that relinquishing work duties is difficult for vacationing executives. Some helpful tips to disconnect are offered.

Sunday, July 1, 2007
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Vacationing marketing and advertising executives may be spending more time looking at laptops than landmarks, according to a recent survey.

Almost nine in 10 (87 percent) of such executives check in with the office at least once a week during time away from the office, while nearly half (47 percent) check in at least daily.

The national poll includes 250 responses -- 125 from advertising executives among the nation's 1,000 largest advertising agencies and 125 from senior marketing executives among the nation's 1,000 largest companies. 

It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by The Creative Group, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based specialized staffing service providing marketing, advertising, creative and Web professionals on a project basis.

Advertising and marketing executives were asked, "How often do you check in with the office while on vacation?" Their responses:

Several times daily: 19 percent

 Once daily: 28 percent

Two to three times a week: 27 percent

At least once a week: 13 percent

Never, I don't check in: 13 percent


"Vacations are a time to disconnect from the job, unwind and re-energize," said Dave Willmer, executive director of The Creative Group. "While checking in on occasion is understandable, excessive communication can spoil the benefits of being away from the office."

Willmer noted that forethought and planning can help ensure a stress-free vacation. He offered these tips for making a successful break -- or for helping others make a successful break:

* Time it right. If possible, schedule vacations when workloads will be light -- before major projects begin or soon after they're completed.

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* Spread the word. Tell clients and customers about vacation plans and provide the names of colleagues to contact during the absence. Use the e-mail's "out-of-office" function to let people know.

* Designate a point of contact to take charge of projects while on vacation and offer to return the favor. Provide clear instructions on what to expect and how to handle certain types of situations.

* Establish office hours. If checking in with the office is necessary, plan ahead. Provide the days and times for message checking to avoid interruptions or that "on call" feeling.

* Unplug. Consider leaving laptops or PDAs at home unless absolutely necessary. If such devices are brought, leave them in the room and check them periodically.

* Seek extra support. Consider hiring temporary staff who can help ensure projects stay on track during vacation time, especially if employees are already operating at maximum capacity.

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