Yes, vacation and sick days are still important while working from home.
Many of us spend months or even years planning our vacations. The ultimate, getaway holiday, with goals of adventure, relaxation and leisure in the summer sun. Sadly, 2020 certainly had other plans in mind. One of the side effects is that there are millions of people working from home.
This does not mean that we should not take our off days. When we take care of ourselves, we will see benefits to our physical and mental wellbeing, success and productivity. If we don't, we pay a price: being stressed and drained significantly affects innovation, creativity, resilience, empathy, decision-making and team building.
It’s vital to mentally detach from work on days off, including the weekend, to ensure you are actually rested when returning to work.
We have all dealt with levels of tension, anxiety and confusion on a large scale nearly unparalleled since the COVID-19 pandemic. It has now taken a toll on millions of individuals'.
For many, work can be a welcoming distraction. It can be an effective way to avoid thinking about unpleasant or worrying thoughts, however, in the long term, it is not really sustainable. Throwing ourselves into work leads to overwork, leading to burnout, which can really harm our overall well-being. It's time to take a step back.
To be able to work at home and to get vacation days that can be used is a real privilege, and it can not be taken for granted. Taking a vacation and disconnecting, as best we can, is more important than ever.
In many sectors, a major problem facing businesses is the lack of employee engagement. A recent survey conducted in 2018 found that almost 70% of Canadian employees were disengaged from their jobs. This is a significant problem, as disengaged employees are not happy or satisfied, but this does not create a productive work environment or, more importantly, a supportive work environment. A lack of work-life balance is one of the main causes of employee disengagement. Although this complex dilemma can not be addressed by vacation days alone, it has been found that more time off ultimately results in improved employee engagement upon their return. Employees who use their vacations and really disconnect from work, return refreshed, more willing and prepared to engage in work tasks and projects.
Don’t forget about sick leave!
Taking time off while you're sick can be important. Study after study shows that pushing through without time to recover benefits no one. Your productivity and ability to focus drastically reduces, which may lead to expensive errors. And it can also impair the ability to recover, also resulting in further health complications.
Look for activities that help you find your flow
Doing things around the house or garden or other projects without pressure involving just a little bit of mental focus enables one to be mindful in the moment and reduces stress levels. Get out of the house to exercise, video call friends, read or do jobs around the house that you have never had time for before. Since your home environment is your work space now, it might alleviate tension to have those things done and not let them hang over your head.
Think about taking an occasional day off instead of a long break.
It is worth considering taking half-days or doing less days a week if stretches of leave does not appeal to you. This will allow you to recharge your batteries, without you feeling like you're 'wasting' your leave. Consider taking a couple of annual leave days that turn regular weekends into long ones.
Tips to make the most of your vacation
Don't hold your PTO for later
With the current travel and getaway restrictions, consider being flexible about what day or days you take off. Inform your superiors that you would like to take some time off, but make sure they know the specific day, so they can make necessary arrangements. Where business needs are still met, as well as your personal needs.
Also, be sure to check your company's vacation policy. Your policy may come with a different set of rules and restrictions, so read up on how you can use them now and post-pandemic.
Turn off work notifications to help you disconnect
It’s very important to mentally detach from work on days off, together with the weekend, so you're refreshed once returning to work.