Is There No Such Thing As Vacation From Work Anymore?

According to Ron Ashkenas, author and managing partner of Schaffer Consulting, there isn’t. In an article for The Harvard Business Review he wrote:

“The reality for many of us these days is that our professional lives bleed into our personal lives. The boundaries are increasingly permeable and movable. We check our emails in the evenings and weekends. We delay or miss family events because we can’t leave the office. And when we do, we take our communications devices with us so that we can stay connected to work.”

Ashkenas has written a number of articles on how people need to manage their work-life balance issues and try to reduce the amount of time work interferes with their personal lives but now he seems to have given up on that idea. According to a survey, only 27% of employees said that they’re able to completely shut off thoughts about work while on vacation and according to an survey of 1,530 people, 30% say they have trouble coping with work stress while they’re away. Ashkenas says maybe we need to accept the fact that the sharp demarcation between work and home is a thing of the past, and that the new normal is a life that integrates home and work more seamlessly. Instead of work-life balance he thinks we should all focus on work-life “integration.”

Choosing integration over balance may actually help us feel better because we won’t have to feel as bad about working during vacation by taking calls or checking e-mail. He is also very supportive of the time and way in which we get our work done. Though many companies are still enforcing traditional, rigid schedules a number of pilot projects, however, have shown that when teams of interdependent workers are empowered to create their own plans for how and when to get their work done, productivity improves considerably.

We have written about how to try to beat vacation guilt and people’s inability to not work on vacation or cut themselves off from their work but maybe that isn’t the area we should be focusing on now. We live in a different world today where you can be constantly connected. Personally, I’d rather acknowledge the fact that it is difficult to completely check out from your job, so I can stop feeling guilty about it because the guilt stresses me out more. I may not be balanced, but I can certainly embrace integration.

Photo: Netfalls/

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