August 03, 2018

The Roundup: Make vacation relaxation last for months, and tips for connecting with remote employees

In this week’s Roundup, how to unwind in our uber-digital age and return to work energized and focused. Plus, advice on communicating with employees working outside of the office.

Kelsey McGillis

Kelsey McGillis is a writer at Ceridian's Toronto office. An avid reader and writer, she studies English and Communications at the University of Toronto.

Enjoying your vacation as a stressed-out professional

In our always-on and uber-connected world of work, finding time to unwind and disconnect is more important now than ever before. And for working professionals, often this relaxation comes in the form of a vacation. Part of gaining the true benefits of said vacation is making a conscious decision to not only physically, but also mentally disconnect. And if you play your vacation right, you’ll feel its benefits long after returning to your cubicle – if you can successfully disconnect from your work life long enough.

As Fast Company notes, the solution to our constant proximity to work is two-fold. First, set realistic expectations. Be honest with yourself in terms of your capacity to disconnect, and you’ll be less likely to feel disappointed. When phones and computers are at the center of our lives, it’s easy for lines to blur between personal and professional tasks, and it’s just as easy to absent-mindedly begin scrolling through your work emails while browsing vacation photos. Second, setting expectations often involves embracing, rather than repressing, your constant connection – there’s nothing wrong with setting aside a little dedicated time to work every day.

Similarly, rather than expecting yourself to feel constantly relaxed and carefree, be mindful and conscious of your true feelings, whether negative or positive. In setting realistic guidelines and limits for phone use and assigning someone to hold you accountable, you’ll be able to embrace both your time on and offline.

How to make your vacation’s benefits last all year

Once your relaxing vacation comes to an end, you must face your first day back to work. With your skin still glowing and your hair still sandy, it’s time to tackle the work that’s built up in your absence. The attitude and behaviors you bring to this first day back are more important than you might think. Rather than rolling out of bed and heading to work in a haze, put some energy into it – after all, your first day can define a work ethic for the rest of the year (or at least until your next vacay.) A recent Fast Company article also recently provided great insight into re-organizing and re-energizing post-vacation.

While many tackle their pile of work in a linear method, from top to bottom of the inbox, this article gives an alternate approach. Use this time to establish your priorities, and start your catch-up work there. Making a habit of consciously deciding what to focus on can change your productivity long-term at work. By writing down and continuously reviewing your list of priorities, you’re able to remain clear on your goals and what you’re working towards. As Fast Company puts it, “Once you’re clear, the list becomes the glasses you put on to look at everything in the bucket. Filter every decision, conversation, request, to-do, email, and opportunity through this lens.”

Though it might feel awkward to decline invitations at the beginning, choosing to focus on tasks that directly apply to your professional goals are ultimately worth the discomfort. Streamlining your focus and time towards the tasks that truly matter is crucial. One thing’s for certain, using your vacation as a springboard can breed focus and inner relaxation that’ll last months longer than your tan.

Communicating with a global workforce

At one time, most workplace correspondence happened face-to-face. Today, however, with an increasingly global workforce, many office interactions now occur in “the cloud.” As methods of communication improve and teams are now able to work together from all over the world, managers must adapt to managing remote teams. With 22% of Americans working from home, plus about 50% of the workforce being in contact with remote/virtual workers, staying technologically fluent is crucial to properly running a company. A recent Harvard Business Review article highlights a few tips for successfully managing employees online.

  • A little goes a long way: Over-doing messages, calls or emails can be considered “digital dominance, a relentless and uncomfortable form of harassment,” as HBR puts it. Only send messages when needed, so as to not waste time or make employees abroad feel constantly-monitored. 
  • Don’t confuse quick with clear: On the other end of the spectrum, beware of confusing a short message with a clear one. In our efforts to keep things quick and simple, we often sacrifice clarity. While you might believe that shorter, abbreviated messages save time, your employees are often forced to waste their time interpreting them.
  • Give comms platforms a purpose: Establish guidelines and regulations for communications. Don’t email everything, every day, for example – use some platforms for quick messages or collaboration, while others can be used for formal meetings or sharing concerns. Equally important is establishing a space for fun and celebration – a digital birthday cake, as the HBR describes it. While communication styles vary from employee to employee, establishing an overall strong system of correspondence is key to making teams all around the world feel cubicles away from each other.

For advice in acing conference calls, check out this article.

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