Do take your phone and lap­top on hol­i­day, but don’t for­get to re­lax

Straight-talk­ing com­mon sense from the front line of man­age­ment

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - SIR JOHN TIMPSON ASK JOHN

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 askjohn@tele­graph.co.uk

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

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