Always (and Never) Out of Office: Why Two-Thirds of Professionals Aren’t Taking Time Off in 2020, But Should

July 27, 2020

This time of year, we're usually packing our bags for a summer getaway and perfecting our out-of-office messages, but this year is unlike any other. Over the July 4th holiday week, historically one of the busiest travel times, Americans took 2.8 billion fewer trips than during the same period last year, marking the first decline in summer travel in more than a decade.  

Most of us are putting vacation on the back burner, and not just for summer: nearly 70% of professionals say they don’t plan to take vacation -- or aren't sure yet if they will -- for the rest of the year.

What’s more, paid time off has become less of a must-have for professionals when considering a new job. Only half (down 20% from last year) say they’d turn down a job if the vacation time offered didn’t meet expectations. And while this might be due to the fact that people are worried about their jobs, it also could be because only one-third of us plan to use all our vacation days this year anyway. However, those professionals are forgoing days off at a time when they need them more than ever! 

Many are facing burnout, and say they’re now stressed at work and stressed at home. Time away from work is critical: it can reset and recharge you, elevate your mood and energy, and increase your productivity. 

To make sure you take the time for yourself that you desperately need this year, here are some tips: 

  • Timing is everything. Plan properly to set yourself and your co-workers up for success while you’re off. Having everyone out at the same time is less than ideal, so be sure you aren’t scheduling time off for the same days as others on your team. Working with your boss on timing can help ensure you’re really able to unplug. 

  • Feel confident about asking for time off. Check out this Linkedin Learning Course on Persuading Others (currently free!) for tips on how to state your case to your manager or boss.

  • Find a coverage buddy. Tag a co-worker to be your stand-in while you’re out. Include their contact info in your out-of-office message instead of inviting calls to your cell with anything urgent. You can return the favor when they’re out.

  • Unplug, for real. Try developing a “digital detox plan,” as outlined in LinkedIn Learning’s Learning How To Unplug (taught by Arianna Huffington), which may include sleeping without your phone in the same room, increasing how long you turn it off for each day, and limiting the number of times you check your device daily. 

  • If you must check in, set boundaries. If you’re concerned you won’t be able to step away fully, establish some rules for yourself and others. Is there a particular time you’ll be open to checking email? Would you rather receive a text if you’re needed for an emergency? Figure out what works best for you and make those guidelines clear to the people you work with. Turn off notifications and put work-related apps in a folder on your phone where you’re less likely to open them mindlessly.

So find the time and make it a priority!