Those of you who know me will be aware that, when I’m not recruiting in the BI & EPM market or writing about the BI & EPM market, my big passion in life is writing fiction. In fact, I’m so passionate about this hobby that every year I use a week of my annual leave, travel hundreds of miles to Scotland and put in my ‘recruiter hours’ working on my stories. Last year I wrote fourteen chapters of my first novel, this year I focused on short stories.
It’s a change of pace from the highly-charged world of recruitment. I go from an environment where I spend all day every day speaking to people to a week of tranquil solitude, from urban modernity to views of the water across to Edinburgh, from a daily commute to a daily walk, and from waiting until I clock off to pour a whisky and light a cigar to… well, you get the idea.
Writing is an art form that requires the utmost concentration without interruption. In fact, the same could be said about anything that’s important to you outside of the office. Switching off completely and truly relaxing, be it to spend time with family and friends, focus on a hobby, or just to recharge, is critical to our mental and physical wellbeing. Reading the article I’ve linked below I wasn’t surprised to read how Brits struggle to switch off from work – a problem I expect is prominent in many modern economies.
The business, health, social, moral, and psychological arguments in favour of ensuring a proper work-life balance have been made numerous times already, and there is no dispute that employees at all levels of seniority who properly switch-off outside of work perform better upon their return to the office.
But whilst ensuring we switch off completely for the sake of our personal and professional wellbeing can seem all very well in theory, it can be harder in practice if, like me, you pride yourself on offering a ‘service that never stops’. To strike an appropriate balance, on the day before I left I turned on my out of office and told the whole world to go fooey, mostly…
I’ll elaborate – I can only do my job properly when I work with candidates and clients every step of the way. This also means being involved in processes and playing my part when I go on holiday because hiring processes don’t stop when I do! It’s this involvement which also gives me job satisfaction, and makes me happy in my career. Additionally, I have a great team that I work with, and we understand how to support one another when we’re out of the office.
The key to wholesome annual leave, as I see it, is to conduct your handover properly and understand which processes you need to stay involved with. You’ll also notice nothing audits your desk better than sending handover emails to everybody you’re currently working with and whoever you’re handing over to. I briefed my manager on all processes and what needed to happen whilst I was away, and introduced everybody I am currently representing to my manager via email. I handed out my personal mobile to anybody who needed it and assured them they could call me at any time.
On holiday I didn’t check my work emails every five minutes, and neither did I fritter away my free time getting distracted by my phone. I left my mobile on the other side of the room to where the writing desk sat, out of reach, but switched on and I knew if somebody called it would be with good reason. I arranged interviews, confirmed candidate availability, and thanked my manager for all their help whilst I was away. I checked my work emails when the kettle was boiling (whatever clichés you know about writers/recruiters and coffee intake, it barely scratches the surface…) and actioned what I needed to immediately. Then I got back to the whichever story I was working on.
And, with final stage interviews booked and 20,000 words written, I like to think I got the balance right.
The survey of 1,200 UK workers from CV Library found that 72.4% of Brits reply to work-related emails, or make work-related calls, in their free time. What’s more, one in three (34.8%) admit that they check their phone for work purposes immediately before they go to sleep and as soon as they wake up.