By Christine Hayhurst, Chartered Management Institute
Q: "Most of my colleagues take work with them on holiday. I'm concerned that if I don't, it will reflect badly on me, so what should I do?"
A: It's not uncommon to hear that people are working when they should be resting. A recent survey by the Chartered Management Institute revealed that less than half of UK managers use their full holiday entitlement.
Many claimed to be worried about the size of their in-tray on their return, the need to rely on others and the pressure of deadlines, as key reasons to keep working. It's likely that these are the reasons behind your colleagues' attitudes... but that doesn't make it right.
Remember, the main purpose of a holiday -- from a work perspective -- is to recharge your batteries. The idea that people should work hard and play hard has become a cliché because it is so true.
Instead of taking work with you, spend some time ensuring urgent matters are dealt with before you take your break. If you leave your office knowing core issues have been cleared up you are more likely to relax. That, in turn, will improve your chances of returning to work refreshed and raring to go.
Your colleagues who work on holiday will still feel jaded and rather than not working on holiday being a poor reflection on you, it's more likely you'll be noticed for increased levels of productivity on your return.
Your concerns are clearly down to a determination to succeed, but you should realize that quantity and quality of work are separable. It might be worth your while to spend some time clarifying your objectives and the timeframe you've set. Ask yourself if something really needs to be done during the time you plan to be away.
At this time of year particularly, most people recognize that their business contacts take time off. You don't need to apologize for it, just alert people to your absence and reschedule where necessary. It's better to seek agreement for a later date than it is to deliver something below par. And think about it -- if you are trying to work whilst on holiday, you will have fewer resources available and more distractions, making the task in hand that much harder to complete.
Ultimately you should bear in mind that overwork is counterproductive. It can cause stress for you and resentment amongst the friends, family or partner that you go on holiday with. Don't just think about how not working on holiday will affect you at work. Consider how it will affect your wider environment. After all, it's important you get the balance right between demands on your time at work and at home. Even if your colleagues think otherwise, it is possible to do a job well without being at work for long hours.
-- The Chartered Management Institute shapes and supports the managers of tomorrow, helping them deliver results in a dynamic world. With 74,000 individual members and 500 corporate members, the Institute helps set and raise standards in management, encouraging development to improve performance.