When I worked for Andersen Consulting I used to get 6 weeks vacation, and take 4 weeks unpaid. I needed 10 weeks to be able to go skiiing a couple of times and race sailboats in National and International competitions. That was in the 1990’s BC (before children)
Now in 2011 AC (After Children) I have zero vacation. Technology did this.
So is this progress? I think so. Sounds mad, but hear me out.
With a global role at Nimbus it means that I need to be everywhere and nowhere. But Nimbus is growing fast and never sleeps. And as we all know as an executive you never really get to take vacation. What happens is you have a mad rush to get things done before you go, leaving you stressed as you start your vacation. When you get back to a mountain of messages and emails and you work like a nutter to catch up. Or you take calls and answer emails whilst on vacation.
Technology – wifi, cellphone (smartphone), laptop, webcams, skype, webex means that I can be connected 100% of the time. Yes I need face to face meetings, but many meetings can be achieved more effectively via video conferencing. So selective use of a 747 means I travel less and do more.
I do not feel I can, or want to, step away from the business for 2 weeks and be completely out of contact. And surrounded by this technology I don’t need to be. However, I can be out of touch for 2-4 hours in any day. Which means I get far more flexibility about what I do with my time.
I still get calls where people say “Oh I didn’t realise you were in US. Sorry for calling you so early”. My approach is “if my phone is on, then call me”. I might be working late, up early due to jet lag, or stupidly left the phone on whilst asleep.
All this means that I am never out of contact, so the concept of “x days vacation allocation” is alien in 2011. I will work to get the work done and work to get my work life balance right. It is not for everyone. Some need to get away from work completely, or their role does not allow flexible working.
So what is your work life balance? Does it mean no vacation and work flexibility, or 9-5 and 4 weeks of vacation?
Watch this 10 min video on work-life balance and decide for yourself.