Let’s Take It Out of the Office

By: Naomi Matlow

Illustration by Wendy MacNaughton

According to Forbes, Americans are vacation-phobic. We daydream about sandy beaches but when it comes to turning our “Out of Office” auto-responder on, we are full of guilt and dread. Research suggests that fewer and fewer Americans are taking their allotted time outside of the office, and the demographic for full-time employees that forego their paid-vacation days are getting younger and younger.

For example, 47% of Americans did not use all of their earned vacation days (21% of whom left five or more days unused!). Some of the reasons for this, cited in the study, are that employees fear their request for time away from the office will be turned down by their bosses, but perhaps even worse, there are cultural pressures to forego breaks and embrace the hustle until we are running on empty. 14% of American employees surveyed believed that taking their vacation time would derail their career and potentially negatively influence their chances of promotion.

Not only do we have FOMO on the joys of life, but we have FOMO in the office now too? What is this world we are living in? There is no arguing for the fact that it is deeply hard in our current day and age to completely unplug and not work at all (or at the very least, not check our work emails) while “Out of Office”, but even a partial break is better for the work itself, and for our own physical and mental health, than none at all. How can we gain perspective on our working lives if we don’t step back every so often and take a look at the bigger picture?

If you are hemming and hawing about requesting that well-earned time away from the office, we are here to tell you why you need to submit that request to your boss ASAP.

Our Top 3 Reasons to Turn on that “Out of Office” Auto-Responder Countdown:

1. Getting Out of the Office is Good for You

Whether it’s five days a year or fourteen days a year, a mental break from the office is an opportunity to disconnect from your “office self” and remind yourself that not only is the world bigger than your cubicle or home office, but you are more than your work. Therapist and author, Sherry Amatenstein told CNN Travel, “Vacation is essential to reset and remind yourself that career is not the be-all and end-all. There are other facets to a healthy existence [outside work]”.

2. Spending Time Away from the Office is Good For Your Work

If you don’t unplug to recharge every once in a while, your body will make itself known. Increased stress, illness, and exhaustion, is the price we all pay for not taking a conscious rest. Brigid Schulte, author and director of The Better Life Lab at the New America Foundation, suggests scheduling your break time like you would dentist appointments. You need to check out of the office sometimes in order to check in on yourself.

3. Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Organizing your personal workload, as well as delegating tasks and sharing priorities with colleagues before going out of the office for a prolonged period of time is empowering and essential for the health of your professional ecosystem. You may find that you take more responsibility than what is required of you, and that distance from full-time work may improve your relationship to your professional life upon your return.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Dillard famously wrote, How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” So, we’re here to empower your to shake up your routine. Perhaps, spend two-weeks rejuvenating (and eating!) in the Tuscan countryside, or disconnecting to reconnect to our natural world for one week in the Peruvian Amazon, or even spend some well-earned relaxation time at home. Do it for your work, but most importantly do it for yourself.



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