Is working while you’re on holiday fast becoming the new normal?

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Two thirds of business leaders have admitted that they check their work emails while on holiday and three quarters have taken or made a work call, according to a new survey into summer working habits by The Institute of Leadership & Management.

 The Institute’s new research found that 65 per cent of respondents check their work emails at some point while on holiday, and 75 per cent have said they’ve taken or made a work call while on leave. Unsurprisingly, most senior leadership teams check their emails on holiday (81 per cent).

But despite the number of business leaders keeping an eye on work while on holiday, 96 per cent of bosses don’t actually expect their staff to check emails when they’re on holiday. In fact, 64 per cent actively try to encourage staff to switch off completely from work, while 32 per cent would take a more relaxed approach.

Kate Cooper, head of research, policy and standards at The Institute of Leadership & Management, said:

“Thanks to modern technology we’re all more connected to our places of work than ever before. This means work-life boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred and we’ve become an ‘always present’ generation of workers. Checking into work while on leave has become increasingly common. Some people may find the stress of being disconnected from work while they’re on holiday is actually more stressful than keeping an eye on what’s going on – if only to rest easy that everything’s okay back at base. But we still know people need holidays, so they can return refreshed and invigorated.

“Managers need down time too and they also need to consider the message they’re sending to the people they manage. Perhaps we should all be more relaxed about this kind of thing – good management is about identifying what environments and working practices will help you get the best out of each individual. If your team want to stay in touch with work while they’re supposed to be on holiday because it works best for them, then maybe that should be considered another element of the flexible working you offer?”

The Institute of Leadership & Management has some advice for managers about taking holidays seriously and to help people to get the most benefit from the break from the routine:

  1. Build in time to catch up. Dedicate your first morning or day back from leave to catch up, whether it’s via team meetings, going through emails or both. A lot can happen in a week, so give yourself enough time to get up to speed and focus on the priorities.
  2. Turn off email notifications. It’s unnerving to see the inbox numbers steadily rise while you’re on leave and therefore it’s tempting to tune in. Don’t be afraid to turn it off. If someone needs you urgently, they’ll call you.
  3. Ask your colleagues to give the cc habit a holiday. You probably don’t need to be copied into every email, so ask them to think twice about whether it’s necessary.
  4. Think about the message you’re sending to the people you manage. If you don’t manage to switch off when you’re on holiday, then they might not either.


For more information about The Institute of Leadership & Management, visit


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2 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. When you’re on your deathbed and looking back on your life which of the two options are more likely as a regret?
    1. I wish I’d spend more time at work and more time answering emails and taking work calls whilst on holiday with my family.

    2. I wish I’d spent less time at work and more time with my family. I wish I’d ignored those work emails and calls whilst on holiday and made more time for my family.

    ps I DON’T take any calls or answer work email while I’m on holiday.

  2. I don’t take any device that would give me access to work emails while on holiday! Simple.

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