BYOD: Death of the nonworking vacation?

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.

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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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55 comments
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  • Hmm

    Still not really seeing it.
    slickjim
    • Hmm...you are clueless...

      aka Loverock.
      Pete&Pete
    • "The Man"

      There was one boss I had who expected - no, demanded. "Take a WHOLE WEEK off just for yourself and you can't find just a couple hours a day just to stay on top of things, huh? Guess some people just don't give a damn..."
      daveje49
  • That's why I carry 2 phones

    One for work and one for personal use - I leave the work one at home and off when I'm on vacation as well as leave a voice mail "Out of Office" greeting and the email Out of Office autoresponder. My vacation time is just that - MY time.
    NonFanboy
  • Reflections on my engineering career. Some things never change

    Being retired (happily) I am free of the burden of a working vacation reality. However, my career started out and lasted thru the birth and maturity of the PC revolution which has given me some insights regarding key points posted in James's blog.

    It was not uncommon to "take work home" with me and finish items on my home PC system in my younger days. (In much the same way current employees find that their personal computing resources are much more advanced than those supplied by their employer, I always found my personal computing systems one or two generations ahead of those at my place of employment. Excluding mainframe applications, of course.) So, I understand the BYOD mentality fully.

    Having stated that, early in my career and thru my mid career experiences, I utilized my personal computing resources at home and on vacation.

    Then, a funny thing occurred. I "dummied up" as I grew older and realized that the corporation would survive just fine without me. Hence, I began taking non-work related vacations and curtailed my after hours work activities on my personal computing equipment to a great extent.

    But I always left my cell phone on in case my superiors or my fellow employees needed my assistance.

    I suspect that my experiences regarding BYOD activities are far from being unique.

    Fortunately, now everyday is a vacation! I even get to read and enjoy James's blogs on a daily basis (thanks to my iPad) - even when he uploads those blogs from a hospital bed.

    BTW, James - I wouldn't worry too much about a reality that forces an employee to be "on the clock" 24/7 by his employer. I always found that working after hours was more of a personal choice (motivated by many factors) rather than an implied demand by the employer or Corporation.)
    kenosha77a
    • Great comment

      If I could I would give you more than the +1 that did.

      1++.....
      daikon
  • Workplace has changed

    Many things going on and it's not really a BYOD / technology thing. Sure smartphones and tablets make it easier to keep in touch with work but the reality is most corporate workers are filling the role of 2-3 people due to lay offs, not filling positions and absorbing additional work. Reports show productivity is at an all time high - at the expense of the workers health.

    Corporate doesn't care though as their finding every way possible to send as many jobs overseas. So yes - being hyper connected (BYOD or not) is all part of the shifting workplace. You also have the role technology is playing in WFH (work from home) and virtual office (all those Starbucks and Panera Bread Wifi people). Human Resources have not adjusted to how people work nor how to fairly compensate them.

    I prefer a work provided technology for the reason when I'm going away, it stays at work. My management have my personal cell / email for critical situations which for my line of work a requirement. I also like the fact Blackberry has custom filtering, alerting as well On / Off scheduling so the device works for me how I need, not I'm a slave to the device.
    MobileAdmin
    • I always get a chuckle at how it's evil

      for a corporation to try and get as much work as possible from an employee, but virtuous for an employee to demand he be required to do as little work as possible by the corporation. Face it, you, as an employee, are just as greedy as your evil corporate boss. You want to get as much from the corporation for as little effort as possible.
      baggins_z
      • Lazy or over worked

        I certainly put in more than 40 hours a week and have always gone above and beyond what my job description requires. A lot of workers are burning out doind 50-60 hours a week and being compensated for 40 hours so how is late wanting to get as much with little effort?!?

        On top of this raises have been flat or minimal for the past 3 years and are not keeping up with the cost of living. So basically your making less and doing double the work you were. So I'm unsure any employee will agree they are abusing their position.
        MobileAdmin
  • Excellent, the road worker will be paving roads on the beach.

    Excellent, the road worker will be paving roads on the beach. The farmer will be raising chickens in Disney Land.

    Wait, what? OH, you're a blogger.

    Not everybody has your job. Just so you know.
    CobraA1
  • Anyone who agrees...

    to bring their personal device to work gets exactly what they deserve. C'mon people, these companies make a ton of money... stop spending your own money to fatten their bottom line. It's called "being taken advantage of".
    kstap
    • That "ton of money" pays your salary

      ....but maybe not for long, if you have the attitude that you won't go the extra mile. I say this respectfully...it is "all hands on deck time" in this economy. Do everything you can to keep your position.
      rehgo99
      • RE: "all hands on deck time"

        When you speak of a 'real emergency' then I agree with you. But, if you are speaking of some management contrived lunacy designed to make the C levels look at the expense of the 'rank and file'; then I regretfully will tell you that I have a"union attitude". And, I have never been a fan of unions.
        fatman65536
      • That's why people like you will live til 45

        then drop dead of a massive heart attack on the deck of a cruise ship because you blew your stack in the conga line over the McConnell account not being taken care of and you having to check in every 5 minutes since you can't live a minute without work up your butt.
        Pete&Pete
        • 48 and still plugging along and have

          never been out of work for more than 4 months in the 22 years I've been in my profession, and that 4 months was in the dot com crash. Because I realize that I am paid a salary to make the company MORE money than they pay me. That makes me a valuable capital investment.
          baggins_z
      • Here's a little secret for you...

        Do your job well and that fact will be appreciated. Go the "extra mile" - you will get nothing in return except used. If you value your own time so little, then why should your employer value it? Your "betters" will forget all about your worn out feet as soon as you are no longer needed or screw up. You are only fooling yourself, if you think your extra mile will give you a better chance than anyone else.
        12312332123
        • You're wrong.

          The extra mile IS doing your job well. And, yes, your employer will appreciate it. I speak from experience.
          baggins_z
    • I agree

      You are being taken advantage of. Your employer should provide the tools that you need to do your job. If my employer wants me to have a smartphone and check email after hours, then they will provide it. However, that won't happen for me as I'm not salary. It's amazing how when you are hourly that the employer stresses that you need a good work/life balance, but those who are salary are expected to work longer hours, be connected all the time, etc...
      (In the interest of full disclosure, I will get calls after hours to dial in when a system is down, but that's different, and it's part of working in healthcare. I get paid for my time on the call, and when I've reached 40 hours for the week, I'm done unless an emergency crops up.) I expect that we'll be made salary soon, but I still won't use my own devices for work and I still won't change my habits about working after hours.

      We also don't want users putting our data on their devices. That's a HIPAA nightmare waiting to happen, and other hospitals have paid some hefty fines.
      GSG
    • RE: It's called "being taken advantage of".

      This remark in the article really drove the point home:

      [i]If allowed to go unchecked, BYOD can in effect put workers on the clock all the time.[/i]

      and you know that some C level, will expect that, just to fatten their bonus.

      I hate to say this, but there are some companies that are not worth "working for". Management of this type of company has a 'slave driver' mentality.
      fatman65536
  • When I am on vacation, I make sure I am almost completely incommunicado.

    If they need to reach me in an emergency, it had better be an end-of-the-world scenario. My boss, whose judgement I trust implicitly, has my private cell phone number, and if there is truly an emergency, he may call me. In twelve years, that has yet to happen. Of course, if your boss is an idiot, then you should never do that. Just tell them you are going on a cruise, and will be out of cell phone range the entire time. I never, ever take my work laptop on vacation. That is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
    thetwonkey