Do take your phone and laptop on holiday, but don’t forget to relax
Straight-talking common sense from the front line of management
QI’m a small business owner who’s finally taking a break after six months of chaos. Normally, I’d suggest leaving my phone and laptop at home, but given the circumstances (my company is struggling), I feel like I should still check in with the office. I feel drained and need a break – what do you think I should do? A
For a lot of us, holidays have become another of the pandemic’s casualties. I have just had to cancel my fourth attempt to travel abroad since the middle of March.
At the beginning of lockdown life, working at home wasn’t so bad. The sun shone, the roads were full of cyclists, we quizzed on Zoom, clapped for carers, spent plenty of time as a family and were thankful that we hadn’t booked to go away on a cruise ship. But we’ve now entered another phase. The “rule of six” is a sharp reminder that things may get worse before they get better, and some people are discovering many of the disadvantages of remote working.
I’m delighted to report the car park at Timpson House, our main support office in Wythenshawe, is full most mornings before 8am. Given the choice, our colleagues prefer working together, but the majority of our bankers, administrators and civil servants have been sentenced to stay at home and to only see their workmates on Zoom.
Everyone needs a break, but the traditional trip to the sun has lost some of its appeal. Even if you reach the Mediterranean, the question of quarantine will never be far from your mind. The deckchair next door could also be occupied by another entrepreneur who has brought their own office down to the beach. There’s no peace if you’re surrounded by noisy sunbathers networking on their phones.
For many years, my late wife Alex banned any office contact whenever we were on holiday, so my answer was to hide my Blackberry in a wash bag.
It worked well; regular trips to the bathroom kept me up to date, so there were no surprises when I returned home. Leaving digital devices at home won’t do you any good. If you don’t keep in contact with your office, you will spend the whole time worrying about what’s happening.
My advice? Take both your phone and laptop, but choose a break that gives your mind a rest.
Forget foreign holidays and the sun lounger – stay in the UK and pick an activity holiday. Camping, hiking, cycling and wind surfing will give you the vacation you need. A change is as good as a rest.
QDue to a bit of a reshuffle, a position at my level of seniority has opened up at my employer. I think my very capable best friend at work would be a perfect fit for it – plus, getting together at work every day would be fun. But I’m a bit nervous about suggesting her to my boss; what if it doesn’t work out? A
I wonder if you’re telling me the full story. Reading between the lines, I suspect you have hopes that your “best friend at work” could become your partner for life. If I’m right in this assumption, you can be pretty sure that your boss is already aware of your ambition.
I suspect that you’re taking a short-term view, without thinking through the long-term consequences.
You’re keen to spend more time with your best friend, but be careful what you wish for. Sharing an office with her
may not work out as well as you hope. It might put a strain on your relationship and could create a barrier between the two of you, as well as your other colleagues.
If she doesn’t perform well in her new role, both your jobs could be at risk.
If you’re willing to take a chance and really believe that your friend has the ability to do the job, by all means
encourage her to apply, but let her complete the application without any help from you.
Keep your distance; her case could be seriously harmed if you campaign on her behalf.
Sir John Timpson is chairman of the high street services provider, Timpson. Send him an email at email@example.com
A cyclist outside the Bank of England and Royal Exchange in the City of London on a Monday lunchtime, a time that would normally be busy with office workers on a break