Vacations: Creative Work Requires Rest

| by Deborah Hartmann Preuss Follow 0 Followers on Jun 14, 2006. Estimated reading time: 1 minute |

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Summer vacations are coming! This is great news, since software development is demanding, creative work and requires that people be focused and healthy to make their best contribution to their team. 

Some Agile writers and coaches stress that teams gain productivity, longevity and creativity when they set a sustainable pace of work, one that allows for home life, recreation and learning.  And yet, an annual poll of 2,500 workers by recruitment firm shows that more than a quarter of Americans say they plan to work while on vacation this year.
A total of 16 per cent reported feeling guilty about missing work while on vacation and seven per cent actually feared their time off could lead to unemployment... While 84 per cent were planning to take a vacation this year, time constraints meant they might still not be taking enough time to recharge. While many Europeans enjoy five weeks or more annual leave, one third of Americans are taking vacations of five days or fewer while one in 10 were limiting themselves to weekend getaways.
Granted, it's an improvement over last year's poll showing one in three working on vacation.

One would hope that the values espoused by Agile teams would continue to work against this effect.  But some things take time, and certainly, corporate culture does not change over night.  When this kind of pressure undermines the health of a team, what can be done? An article on suggests some simple ways to tackle this problem without resorting to lies about "unreliable internet connectivity". These might, in the short term, address the problem.  The site also features a list of earlier articles on the subject of adequate vacation.

But deeper work-culture issues may be driving this "vacation guilt", and for a long term solution, it might be worth rooting out and addressing incongruences between stated organizational values and implicit expectations, an approach outlined in Edgar Schein's book Corporate Culture Survival Guide.

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