Working on vacation, vacationing at work

I’m working on a piece on the blurring boundaries between work time and not-work time. There has always been some blurring for information type jobs (as I found in the I Know How She Does It time logs) but Covid + remote work has accelerated the trend.

One manifestation of this is, of course, doing some work on vacation (hence the August news hook). This tends to get frowned upon, and I’m certainly not a fan of required work — though for certain sorts of jobs, my sense is that doing a little work on vacation can enable more vacation time. Another manifestation is doing work at nights or on weekends — but sometimes this enables mini-vacations during the work day, or at least family flexibility during work hours. Or at least it should. I think if folks are on the phone with a team from Asia at 9 p.m. it makes a lot of sense to sometimes not be working at 9 a.m. if you don’t need to.

Anyway, if you are working very flexibly, moving time around — doing work things at not-work hours and not-work things during work hours and want to talk about it, please let me know! Especially if you have more of a “conventional” job. As always, you can reach me at laura at lauravanderkam dot com. Thank you!

10 thoughts on “Working on vacation, vacationing at work

  1. I 100% move things around now to work flexibly – that is an advantage of the pandemic. I now have a hybrid schedule of 2-3 days in the office and 2-3 days at home. For my days in the office, things are relatively structured and my commute home is the “break” between work life and home life. For the days at home, I take advantage of being able to make appointment during working hours or run errands when stores are not crowded – and therefore have much more blurred lines between work and home life that often result in my logging on at night. I almost never completely unplug on vacation either but don’t often feel burdened by that. The result of all of this, I think, is that my boss knows I’ll get my job done (even if at odd hours) and therefore is very flexible about time off, understanding that kid stuff comes up, etc.
    I have previously heard some of this type of stuff as “home-ing from work” (as opposed to working from home) and I think the time all comes out in the wash – meaning I’m still probably putting in my 37.5 hours but not using a traditional schedule every day.
    I don’t know if this is what you’re interested in talking about but I’m happy to chat about it and can reach out if you want. I work in academic medicine (allied health provider doing research so no clinical responsibilities other than email consults sometimes).

  2. I work on 100% of my vacations. However this means that when I need to go to a drs appt during the week or want to take a break to exercise during “non vacation” time, I feel absolutely no guilt in doing so.

    1. @OMDG – yep, it has to go both ways. I am reminded of the times, pre-pandemic, when organizations insisted people couldn’t work from home, but that didn’t mean they turned off people’s smart phones at 5 p.m. It was fine to “work at home” at nights/weekends. They just meant not during business hours. But that isn’t really a consistent position!

  3. I work reasonably flexibly. I work from home, and most often work 6-7 hours during working hours – around 9:30-4 or 5 with various breaks (shower, eat, play with the cat, nap if I’m tired, do chores or make personal calls, etc…). Then I will log on at night or on weekends as needed to get things done, and I travel for work so I am frequently traveling during off hours, though I try to avoid weekend travel as much as possible. This schedule is by choice, mostly because I happen to feel more focused at night, and because I don’t find it easy to focus for 8 hours while working from home. And I like to sleep in for as long as possible before my first meeting. I almost always log in for a bit on Sunday evening so that I can go into the week feeling prepared with a list of priorities. The schedule works well for me to work when I’m feeling focused and do other things when I’m not, and if anything seems to make coworkers think that I’m working a lot, because I’m often online during non-business hours.
    I also attend any appointments needed during the day, and if I need to take off early some afternoons to get ahead of personal travel or anything that is easy as well.

    I have previously worked various adjusted schedules as well as a more typical schedule. I’ve worked a 9/80 schedule (80 hours worked across 9 days instead of 10, with every other Friday off), or half-day Fridays (40 hours worked Mon – 1 PM Fri weekly). Those weren’t as flexible but I enjoyed having the time off on Fridays, and the extra hours on other days were short enough that they didn’t really feel noticeable.

    I don’t think my schedule is particularly unique, but I’d be happy to chat if you are looking for people to chat with, though I’d want to be reasonably anonymous if you’re quoting people in an article. Also I definitely have a conventional job, I am a project manager.

  4. I’ve always told myself not to get flustered about “taking time away” from my kids on evenings and weekends because I do handle personal/kid stuff during work hours if needed – dr appointments, texting to coordinate carpools/playdates, call with a teacher, order sports equipment, and the list goes on and on. It helps me to remember that it goes both ways so I dont get super annoyed by interruptions during the evening.

  5. I definitely move things around – the line for me is blurry. I have a fairly conventional job, but I am also paid to think. So, sometimes that thinking occurs when I’m not at work. Sometimes I’m not thinking about work when I am physically in the office. It’s a trade off and in general I like to think about how I can use my time most effectively for both professional and personal needs.

    (I am also happy to talk more about this!!)

  6. I find this ironic that I read this while finishing an afternoon of meetings while I’m vacation. With one meeting that couldn’t be changed it was easier to batch others around it but still keep the rest of my week off. I also feel confident that the 20 minutes I spent going through email, responding to the quick ones, deleting things that had been resolved, and flagging those that will need follow up will save me hours on return.

  7. In spring 2021, before our offices had reopened, my husband and I moved with our two young daughters across the country to test out a potential new place to live. We both work for large companies and then went through the required HR and management approvals to be able to work basically 100% remotely (although I am now flying back to the office about once per quarter). Both of us do a “split shift” at least a couple nights per week, doing some work after our girls are asleep. With our flexible schedules, we have been able to manage school drop off and pickup, attending the occasional midday school activity, and a bit of late afternoon pool time with no additional childcare. I can also usually fit in a mid-morning walk, sometimes multitasking with a conference call. The flexibility and time spent with our children is worth occasionally making up the work hours at night.

  8. I can work fairly flexibly but when I move things around, I mostly feel it is to my disadvantage. I don’t really unplug on vacation then which makes the vacation less relaxing. Same goes for weekends and evenings. I see why the flexibility helps but I am torn as to whether it really is benefitting me.

  9. Hi, I am a University Administrator/Professor and I would be happy to chat with you about this issue.
    As a prof I’m used to working whenever I feel motivated, but moving into administration means that my schedule is much more constrained. And then there is the judgment of colleagues….

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