I know what I want for Christmas. In reading the Harvard Business Review, I found an article titled “How to Keep Email from Ruining Your Vacation.” Everyone is likely intrigued by that headline, but I was particularly so because I had just returned to the office from a summer-long sabbatical. (GIE Media offers a wonderful [and virtually unheard of] sabbatical program that allows long-tenured employees to take extended leave if their manager approves. Thanks Dan!)
You don’t just get to put your sunglasses on and waltz out the front door when taking a sabbatical at GIE. I put in extra hours in preparation for my time off, I did some work while I was out and I made myself available to colleagues who had questions. But the biggest thing I did while I was gone was check, respond to and delete my emails.
Why did I check? The same reason you do. I didn’t want them to pile up. (Before you think I’m full of myself thinking how important I am, my name and address are on virtually every PR staffer’s distribution list, whether or not the product they’re promoting has anything to do with pest control. On the day I wrote this column I received press releases titled “Jacksonville Jaguars Select TierPoint to Provide Technology Services” and “Campus Suite Launches Accessibility and ADA-compliance Education Center.” My email runneth over.)
A May 31 article on Forbes.com confirmed my experience. “More employees are doing work and thinking about work while on vacation,” said Scott Dobroski, a Glassdoor community expert. “Technology is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it can allow parents to take off at 3 p.m. and see their child’s soccer game during the week. But it’s a curse because you can take off for vacation time and be sitting on a beautiful beach and log into your inbox.”
And why do workers log in from the beach? In my case, it was because I didn’t want to come back to a fuller-than-full mailbox. If I dealt with my email messages as the summer went along, I would have a manageable amount of work waiting for me upon my return.
But what if that didn’t have to be the case? That HBR article discussed a firm called Thrive Global, which created Thrive Away: “Truly unplug with Thrive Away, the vacation email tool that automatically deletes new emails while you’re away, letting senders know when you’ll be back in the office. Your time to recharge is more important than your inbox.”
Wait, what? An empty mailbox when I arrive back at work? COME BACK FROM VACATION WITH NO EMAILS? Are you kidding me? Talk about a break from work…
Sigh. But the more I thought about it, the more my Type A personality cringed at a computer deleting my stuff. While returning to an uncluttered inbox sounds incredible, my mind (and heart) started racing about everything that could go wrong. What if I had been waiting months for a reply and finally received it while I was out? What if people were appalled that my email automatically deleted them? What if I had won the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes?
Never mind. It’s not going to work for me. On second thought, maybe all I want for Christmas is to turn my phone off for a week or two. I think that’s much more realistic.
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This month’s cover story about Rentokil North America is the second in a three-part series about industry mergers and acquisitions. The first article in this series, in the August issue, focused on Anticimex, the industry’s newest international player. In a future issue of PCT, the third article will feature coverage of what major U.S. firms are doing to counter the entry of global players into the North American pest control market.
While it may seem that Rentokil has been in the pages of PCT for as long as you can remember, it’s really only been about a decade. PCT’s first major coverage of the UK-based firm was in April 2006 (see cover at left). Who knows what the next decade will bring as far as M&A activity? Perhaps 11 years from now we’ll reference the August 2017 Anticimex cover as the first time we covered the Swedish firm in depth. Only time will tell.
The author is editor of PCT magazine.