Always connected. Always.
My advice is take your vacation. And gather ye rosebuds while ye may. Mary Elizabeth Williams, writing in Salon, warns us about the pre-cation: paid time off before you start.
The “pre-cation” is a trap!
As Oremus points out, we are already a vastly overworked nation. We put in considerably more hours than we did a generation ago — and most of us are doing it while facing what the New York Times last year called “flatlined” wages. A new study released last month revealed that Americans take only about half the vacation time they’re entitled to, missing out on the equivalent of “over 500 million” days off a year. Why? Because they’re afraid of repercussions, an anxiety reinforced by what MarketWatch notes is “company culture and lack of encouragement from management to take time off.” People are reluctant to take vacations for fear they’ll be revealed as expendable. It actually happened to me at an old job – I came back from a week away and was promptly told, the day I returned, they were “restructuring the department” and I was no longer needed. We’re likewise afraid to take time off for legitimate medical reasons, hiding even serious illnesses for fear of being dinged for “absenteeism.”
I entered the workforce in the last era of coming in to a place, doing the work and leaving at the end of the day, in no small part because most people still didn’t have cellphones. I still recall the precise moment I realized we were all screwed. It was when AT&T rolled out its benevolently futuristic ad campaign twenty years ago. In it, the voice of Tom Selleck promised a tomorrow full of many wonderful things that in fact have come to pass. “Have you ever borrowed a book from thousands of miles away? Crossed the country without stopping for directions? Have you ever watched the movie you wanted to, the minute you wanted to?”
But the chiller for me was when he asked if you’d ever “sent a fax from the beach?” and then ominously vowed, “You will.” Okay, so nobody knows what a fax is any more. The implication was clear. You will always be reachable. You will always be findable. Whatever your pristine sanctuary of retreat was, you will now be able to, ergo expected to, work from it. At the time, I was living in San Francisco, and had several friends working at a new enterprise in the tech world. The company was instantly famous — right before this became pretty normal — for having a gorgeous kitchen, a game area where workers could play, a highly encouraged policy of letting them sleep over — and for not letting employees go out for lunch unless it was for client meetings. Why would you want to leave paradise? Also, you can’t.