Introducing the Workaholiday

Creating a personal balance between the work-related and non-work-related parts of our lives is becoming increasingly difficult. There are fewer and fewer places I can go, where no-one one can reach me by text, email or telephone. And while I enjoy some solitude, I want to stay connected to my family, so I’m reluctant to disconnect at other times. Hybrid working has made things worse for many people – the boundaries of when we are and are not available are much harder to maintain.

Add to this the shifting boundaries between work and not-work. I enjoy what I do for a living. If I want to capture a creative idea, I don’t want to wait till a designated work hour comes around. And if I’ve been working hard on something, I want to reward myself with some family time, or get some exercise. I recognise that doing things well (on both sides of the work/non-work dynamic) requires flexibility, creativity and spontaneity.

Right now, I’m on a workaholiday. That is, I’ve planned some work engagements that allow me to travel and I’ve slotted in some recuperative adventures in between. It allows me not to feel so guilty about my carbon footprint and it means that I can be at my best when I deliver workshops. There’s another big plus, however. Freed from a lot of routine, I’m able to take advantage of down time from my adventures to read, reflect and write (as I’m doing right now). I’m valuing the recuperative effect of ticking off a long list of tasks that were not that important or urgent, but were loitering at the back of my mind. You could say I am having a mental Spring clean.

I don’t think of these activities as either work nor as non-work. They are something in-between and I have learned to see them as an important part of a healthy and productive existence. This leads me to a radical thought: what if everyone and especially every executive or professional, were able to let go of the idea that there is a rigid boundary between work and non-work. In addition to worktime and holiday time, what if workaholidays became an accepted norm? What additional value would be created in the workplace, if leaders engaged regularly in a few days of recalibration, where they did not feel guilty about choosing between work or play?

Even the concept of “workplace” needs redefinition. I suggest “where you are able to think creatively and be most creative”. The word “workstation” suggests obsolete thinking, a static environment rather than one that is dynamic and (re)generative.  Let’s all go on a workaholiday!

©️ David Clutterbuck 2024

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