Since this is my last column for 2013, I thought I’d take a moment to talk about a hot topic among those of us who run our own businesses or are in client service industries, such as brokers, attorneys and nearly everyone in my inner circle: taking time off.
Sometimes one of the hardest things to do is to tear ourselves away from work, but the result is almost always worth the effort. Whether it’s for this holiday season or during other times of the year, short breaks allow you to come back to work recharged, refreshed and ready to hit the ground running.
Some of our clients, particularly those in the tech and social media realm, schedule downtime for employees each quarter as a company-wide practice. The entire staff is encouraged to power off and shut down for a full week to charge their creative batteries. Since these workers typically have long days and intense work environments, it only makes sense.
At our firm, we don’t have quarterly shutdowns, but we absolutely encourage everyone to use vacation and personal days as they see fit. However, since we’re in a client-focused business, we ask them to do so responsibly. All obligations are covered and lines of communication are set up so that the clients know who to get in touch with and how. Should a crisis arise, they have a senior manager or project executive to get in touch with by email or through an emergency phone number (my home number included!).
This time of year, with two back-to-back holidays coming up, we expect that nearly everyone will want that time off, and we want to be able to say “yes” as much as possible by staggering vacation days and arranging coverage. My own personal approach is to take time off with periodic, but regular, contact so I know all is going smoothly. That often involves texting or email, with calls scheduled on an as-needed basis. Clients know that if they need a helping hand, even if it’s about a personal matter, we’re there for them. They have my numbers and, in certain cases, my itinerary. In my 20-plus years in the business, I’ve never had anyone abuse that privilege (nor have I the other way around).
I believe that’s because they understand the positives that come with time off. The benefits are both mental and physical and allow people to maintain important family relationships. That kind of balance helps workers in their professional life, and they usually return to the office a bit more vibrant, rejuvenated and enthusiastic than when they left—and hopefully even full of new ideas that benefit their clients.
For instance, my wife and I recently took a trip for a milestone anniversary to two places that have always been on my destination wish list: Greece and Turkey. I felt fortunate to go back to my architecture roots and visit places I studied in school. It was awe inspiring and great for my creativity, and seeing these monuments reinforced my love of what I do professionally. Sometimes, a little time out of the office helps you remember how much you enjoy being in it.
Happy holidays to you and yours! I look forward to sharing more with all of you when I return—refreshed and recharged—in 2014.