BYOD: Death of the nonworking vacation?

Summary:People are increasingly doing work stuff while on vacation, a trend that's bound to get worse as more folks bring their own device to work.

In this fast-paced world of non-stop connectivity, more of us can be spotted doing work tasks when we should be experiencing much-deserved down time. This is especially true on those rare (for some of us) vacations, when instead of sipping drinks with umbrellas on the beach, we are checking email and dealing with work issues.

This trend is bound to get worse as more companies allow workers to bring their own devices (BYOD) to work.

Many of us work long past office hours given how easy it is with smartphones always connected to the information superhighway. Responding to that "one last" email can be just the beginning of an unplanned work session, when we should be offline and having some important down time.

Vacations are intended to be enjoyed totally away from work stuff, but that's not the case for many. The standard excuse of dealing with email to avoid being swamped when the vacation ends is just that, an excuse.

Getting away from work is vitally important to our mental health, and vacations should be the best way to do that. We only have ourselves to blame when we work on vacation, but with BYOD getting bigger care needs to be taken that the movement doesn't make working on vacation an expectation.

Having a smartphone (or tablet, laptop) on vacation is not a bad thing, as many of us use them for entertainment. It requires discipline to stay away from the work stuff, however, something that was a bit easier when we had separate tools assigned by the job. We could use our own gadgets for entertainment but leave the work gadget at home at vacation time.

With BYOD that's no longer possible, the personal gadget is the work gadget, too. You can't leave it back at home when heading out to that exotic vacation, and that means your work stuff is right there with you. That's not a bad thing if we can separate work from personal things.

What companies need to address in defining the rules for BYOD is how to deal with vacation time. While it might be good for the company to have workers dealing with work things on vacation, that's a bad thing in the longer term. Your employees need to get away from the job, and it's smart to make that part of the BYOD policies.

If allowed to go unchecked, BYOD can in effect put workers on the clock all the time. That will almost certainly end up causing burnout, something vacations would normally protect against. There needs to be a system in place that kicks the worker off the job when vacation time rolls around.

Many of us are not very good at leaving the job at home on vacation already, so we need help if our gadgets are also work items. Savvy folks realize how important it is to get away from work on vacation, and take drastic measures to ensure they leave the job behind. Several of my friends take vacations to get away, and a big factor in choosing a venue is to make sure they don't work. They always pick vacation spots with no connectivity whatsoever, guaranteeing they don't get tempted to just do that one work thing.

If companies don't take vacation time into account when making smart BYOD policies, the nonworking vacation could become a thing of the past. That's not good on any level, and workers need employers to let them get away from it all when vacation time rolls around.

Image credit: Jason Perlow- Off the Broiler

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Topics: Tablets

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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