Monday, October 6, 2008

Planning for Vacation: Can You Leave the Office at Home?

I once said way back in the 30th anniversary issue of Marketnews Magazine (can you believe that was six years ago!) that this industry is like Hotel California: you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. While the statement was in reference to people who may have left to pursue other opportunities, or perhaps even have retired, I've been thinking a lot about it in reference to a shorter-term split: vacation!

By tomorrow afternoon, I'll be basking in the sun on holidays, and while it will be easy to leave the office at home, it also won't be. Anyone who works in this industry, and especially in Canada, knows how tight-knit it is. Everyone knows everyone, and a week is like a year in terms of how quickly things move.

Once you leave the office, you might physically be at home, but you often come in contact with so many things that remind you of work: watching TV and observing the picture quality. Listening to the audio system in a restaurant and thinking about how awful it sounds. Checking your BlackBerry under the dinner table while your wife shoots you a dirty look. Enjoying some fun family time with the kids on the Wii gaming console. While some are able to leave work behind more effectively than others, this industry is so ingrained in everyone's daily lives, that it's hard to do so entirely.

So while I work hard to prepare for my 2-week absence, I find myself wondering how often I'll feel the need to connect. Will I be frantically searching for WiFi zones to jump online? Last year, I managed to cope, although I did find myself a bit twitchy at times. This year, however, I'm outfitted with a BlackBerry (the Bold, of course), which might make surfing online a bit more tempting. Will I be checking our Website properties to see what's going on while I'm away? Will I hear about a big news story and think "darn, I hope we've covered that!" Will I be in the middle of dinner only to have a random thought pop into my head: "We should do this at Canada Night this year!"? Or perhaps be reading a book (Hug Your Customers, no doubt) under a beach umbrella only to look up and think: "That beach scene would be perfect for the article on tech for the summer in 2009".

Chances are the answer to these questions is both yes and no. The truth is that once you're actually away on vacation, leaving the office behind becomes easier and easier with each passing day. Don't you think? But let's face it: as much as you want to deny it, work is always in the back of your mind.

As for me, I'm not actually going to a hotel in California, but I will be checking out for a few weeks. In my absence, Lee Distad, Marketnews custom A/V contributor (author of the Custom Corner column both online and in print) will be taking the reigns and guest blogging here. You might also see a few more tales of woe from Marketnews and here's how! Associate Publisher John Thomson.

Enjoy their insightful and interesting commentary; and I look forward to rejoining the team in a few weeks!

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