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Are you on a ‘workation’ ?
Once upon a time, summer vacations lent syntax to the daily grind - an elegant comma punctuating a long and dreary sentence. But now 'work' has crept into our holidays like an uninvited guest, with emails popping out at us from smartphones and company reports waiting to be written on laptops that are now an essential part of holiday baggage.
Remember the humungous effort that it took Hrithik Roshan to switch off from work and enjoy the Spanish countryside in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara? If there was ever a doubt that Indians go a tad overboard when it came to carrying work with them on vacation, here's proof. A global survey by Regus, a provider of flexible workspaces, shows that 53 per cent of Indians work between one and three hours a day while on summer vacation, 5 per cent higher than the global average. As many as 27 per cent work more than three hours a day while on holiday, 7 per cent above the global average.
India's score on the 'Workation' survey mirrors those of the US, unlike the more easy-going European countries, many of whom score below the global average when it comes to carrying work on vacation.
"Somewhere in the course of a marriage, a man takes on a second wife - his work. He continues to have an affair with both and can't disconnect out of habit. Taking a family on vacation is also work for a man.
So when on holiday, he's working for both his family and his job. While his wife, who may have spent 10 months at home, looks at a vacation as a time to shop and see places, a man would rather rest in a swimming pool with his laptop and beer. This completely shatters family life, " says Dr Harish Shetty, president of the Counsellor's Association of India. He feels women find it much easier to switch off from work.
The antidote to the addiction, says Shetty, is to take a half-hour off each day, away from the laptop and the mobile. "If you can practise this in small doses, it'll be easier to do on vacation, " says Shetty. "The world won't come to a standstill if you take a break from work. Even if you're the CEO of a company, your office won't fall apart without you. "
Not everyone works on holiday out of choice. When an employee of a multinational firm in Gurgaon set out on a trip to Mauritius with his wife, he was explicitly told by his boss to carry his laptop with him, check email every night and attend to his mobile phone at all times.
"During a two-week vacation, I had to participate in a conference call on two occasions. The day I landed, I was asked to submit fiveyear plan projections for the company, for which I had to postpone deep-sea diving with my wife by a day, " he says.
He believes that working for even half an hour a day on vacation ruins the holiday spirit. "After you're done with work, even when you're out sight-seeing, it's hard to relax. It's like waking up at 5 am to store water, and then going back to sleep. You've lost the dream, " he adds.
"Generally, there were no differences between vacationers' and non-vacationers' posttrip happiness. Only vacationers on a 'very relaxed' holiday benefit in terms of post-trip happiness, " says a research paper published in the journal of Applied Research in Quality of Life, which involved surveying Dutch vacationers.
Not all Indians work on vacations. Sheetal Kumar is among those who have bucked the trend. The successful Bombay High Court lawyer simply refuses to carry work with her on holiday. "I completely switch off from work when I'm on vacation, " she says. The result? When she returns to work, she's back with a bang. "There's nothing as rejuvenating as a vacation, " says Kumar.
While Mumbai may have earned itself a reputation of being a city that never sleeps, another Mumbaikar, investment banker Imran Shaikh, ensures that he does not activate the data connection on his phone when he's out on holiday. That there was no connectivity during his last vacation spent trekking in the Himalayas certainly helped.
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