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Working Remote Could Be Great For Mental Health

Working remote during vacation — it used to be considered taboo. I was not a happy-camper (actually resort-goer) when my partner had to pause for a conference call. Or two. I thought time away should have been considered ‘untouchable.’ But times have changed. As more people work remotely, it has opened up new frontiers and opportunities to travel.

Some people go as far as to call it ‘vacationing at work.’ Turns out, it may be good for mental health as well, since it’s a great way to stay productive. Airbnb reports that a pent-up desire to travel since the pandemic has led to an increase in their bookings. Led by a 25% increase in long-term stays which includes 28 days or more. It seems as priorities shift, people are making time to get away, even if it means working all the while.

The website conducted a survey looking at office behavior. Analyzing the habits of about 3,200 consumers, it found 44% of participants spent at least part of their time working somewhere outside both the office and the home. It could be they clocked in at a coffee shop down the street or from a mountain cabin miles and miles away. With many jobs, all that’s required is a laptop and a good internet connection.

As great as it may sound, there is some downside. It may be harder to unplug once you cross the divide between work and play. In some instances, people feel guilty if they are packing up and leaving for a fun destination. Especially if it is on the ‘sly’ meaning they are not disclosing it to their employer. But really, is it necessary? If you can accomplish the same efficiency, why not?

There should be ground rules if this “working vacation” thing is going to work out. Most importantly is to try to stick with your customary workflow. It is also worth considering whether you are taking PTO (personal time off) but still willing to stay responsive and engaged to some degree versus conducting business as usual, just somewhere else.

If you are truly vacationing, it is okay to put on auto-reply on your email explaining you will have limited accessibility. Then really limit it. Checking messages once or twice a day and responding accordingly. Before you leave, organize your schedule so that nothing foreseeable is required in your absence.

Most of that is self-explanatory, stuff we’ve done for years. The tricky part is navigating the ‘on the clock’ vacation. The key is to be reachable during work hours. Luckily, our cell phones keep us connected. Promptly returning calls and messages is a must. Also, designate a workspace where you can comfortably and quietly operate. That includes everything from phone calls and Zooms to space to spread out paperwork or print documents needed.

Lastly, keep your expectations in check. If you are working, it’s still your job to put forth the same effort and efficiency. That’s hard to do walking around Disney World, but enjoying the sunshine at a beachside rental is reasonable. Just schedule your activities so that you have enough time to accomplish your work tasks and accept that your family or friends may be doing some things without you. If done properly, the whole world could be your office space.

What do you think?


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