why disconnect?

En réalité on dirait qu’il y a deux hommes en moi qui se disputent sans cesse: un homme du Nord, féru d’ordre et de discipline, et un homme du Sud couché dans son hamac sous un figuier, tandis que la Méditerranée vient lécher la rive à ses pieds.

by Georges Simenon, “Des Traces de Pas”

Simenon captures it well. We need to work, but we also need to have time off. So it’s the topic of many a conversations these days, when we all prepare for our holidays, which for many is already stress in itself. The mailbox must be empty before we put on our out-of-office. As a result some others get loads of new messages in their inbox.

During my last business trip to Dubrovnik Bakel, Ken and I discussed our coming vacation plans over lunch. It didn’t take long before the conversation lead to how we manage work when we are out of the office. Ken is okay to take the occasional call between a museum visit and a lunch. Bakel advises to task your executive assistant or a direct report to flag emails that need attention red. Another colleague of mine throws all the office apps off her phone. Many more tips can be found on the internet and in specialized magazines.

We all deserve time off. We need to charge our batteries. But for me a hard diving line between work and holidays, or between our professional and private lives for that matter is not what works for me. I am currently on holidays – travelling Switzerland and Italy – and I don’t mind reading my emails. First, the flow of mails is much lower these days and second, I just don’t like to come back to the office with a heap of mails awaiting me.

Perhaps I am fortunate that I don’t have to work because I’m passionate about most of the things I do. And I learned to surround myself with strong people. I invest plenty of energy in creating a team, which is hard work, but then all the rest is easy. Just need to stick to my leadership mantra to empower and coach the individuals in the group.

I don’t need a hard cut between office hours and family hours. I am happy to do some work when off. And I don’t feel guilty to have some quality when I’m supposed to be focusing on work. What is wrong with reading a few pages of the book I’m immersed in during office hours or to go and see a selection of paintings when I’m around on a business trip? The core question is, what is keeping our energy levels up? What is charging our batteries and where we find inspiration? I have solved many, many work related problems while driving to my holiday destination and I didn’t charge my boss extra for that.

It is not about disconnecting during the holidays but about being able to switch off, at all times, also during office hours.

It is therefore weird that some consider themselves a different person at home or when in the office. In my case Jean Philip (also know as JP in the office) is the same person at each hour of the day. True, role and organization may vary, but the person remains the same. So for me it’s not about switching on and off, it’s about being aware what drives me. I pull energy in writing this blog (sort of work) but also in closing this laptop and going down to this wonderful hotel for diner.

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