5 Reasons Summer Vacation Is More Important This Year…Even If It’s Just a State of Mind

Family playing a game together during summer vacation

A little over a year ago, a study about employees and their vacation showed that barely a quarter of our workforces planned to max out their vacation.

“Taking a real break is an important habit,” wrote CNBC. “Research shows time off may be good for your health and even boost your productivity at work in the long run.”

The benefits of vacation haven’t changed. But in a year when our people are hunkered down at home, employees may need to be reminded about their PTO. And it’s arguably even more important now.

Why?

People are spent: Spring 2020 has been a year’s worth of crisis management in the space of a few months. 

They don’t know they’re spent: The surge of adrenalin and accomplishment was a rush. “Suddenly every important task is getting done right now,” one executive told Harvard Business Review of the initial charge. “Not in a year … not beginning of next week, but right now.” It was stressful, but strangely exciting. 

They’re denying their challenges: How can we enjoy time off, wrote Forbes, when so many other people are in crisis? 

Home offices provide camouflage: Working in sweats and PJ creates the delusion of a vacation – even as we’re toiling round the clock. 

Limitations make “getting away” feel beside the point: We can’t really go anywhere. So we tell ourselves there’s no upside.  

Regressing After the Surge

But here’s the thing: we’re not doing as well as we think. “The adrenaline-fueled pace of the initial crisis” wrote Harvard Business Review, has begun to sputter. “Problems became more complex and exhausting. The varnish started to crack. The glory faded. Fuses were short.” 

In short, we’re burning out. But this year, in the absence of summer plane tickets, room reservations, and poolside umbrella drinks, the impetus is gone. “Taking care of ourselves is often the best way to get closer to the productivity we want to see and the value we want to deliver at work,” wrote Forbes. It’ll be up to managers to remind people. 

“Employees ranked their boss the most powerful influencer when it comes to taking time off,” wrote the U.S. Travel Association a few years ago. “Eighty percent of employees said they would likely take more time off if they felt fully supported and encouraged by their boss.” And let’s face it: the boss could use it, too. 

So log out. Sign off. Shut down.

Vacation is a place where no one can find you. Even if it’s in your own back yard.

Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

June 30, 2020

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.