Does the internet have to go down for knowledge workers to take a guilt-free vacation?

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Yesterday, major websites across the US slowed to a crawl when Level 3 Communications, which operates one of the largest internet backbones in the world, experienced technical difficulties.

For knowledge workers, losing internet access is a big deal. (How much of your job would be impossible without internet?) But the internet not only enables our jobs, it also frees us to collaborate globally while working away from our desks and away from the normal 8-5 (should we choose).

The freedom of working from home means we are not forced to leave work. The very technology that’s freed us has become our lifeline. As a result, this fascinating survey shows we now feel guilty if we don’t work during the holidays.

Currently, I’m writing from a friend’s ranch house in the middle of North Dakota. In previous years, my cell phone wouldn’t work, nor would my EVDO modem, and dial-up speeds never topped 30Kbps. Coming here meant zero functional internet–a guilt-free vacation.

But this year my cell modem works. Tonight, I’m able to wrap up some last-minute work. And I’m also faced with a choice–do I unplug for three days as originally planned, or do I check e-mail tomorrow?

Research shows knowledge workers can’t afford to NOT spend time away from work exercising, sleeping, and de-stressing. Continuing to work simply results in feeling productive, rather than being productive.  Personally, I find my creativity withers, my energy tanks, and my planning horizons shrink.

But knowing and doing aren’t the same.
As a co-worker observed, “This is the season when everyone PRETENDS to not work.”

See you in four days.

  • TheWebPixie

    Enjoy your well-deserved vacation, Jeff! In answer to the question posed in the title of your article: Yes, apparently so.

    In the health care “industry,” a similar question has also been posed. “Does someone have to actually DIE before we can have the staffing we need for anyone to have one day off once in awhile?”

    Expecting weekends off became a concept of fantasy a long time ago. Working holidays is supposed to an honor because of the extra pay. Most people required to work holidays in hospitals would rather have the time off than the money. Thank heavens, they’re dedicated enough to do it and are happy to be there while the “suits” at home with THEIR families. That way they can focus on patient care instead of hospitial politics.

    Let’s hope for a happier and healthier 2009 for us all. Happy New Year!

  • alex

    Hi –

    Not to sound too pessimistic here but that’s been the case for a long long time across many different industries. Big businesses rely on the backbones of their employees (lesser middle to upper management types) to keep the business moving at a 24×7 pace. Understanding that point does imply some entity will have to take responsibility of preserving that business ideaology. Whether its in the high technology sector, banking and financial services to healthcare and law enforcement, people will always have to be working. Its in those certain events *indirectly* tied to the business a person would work in would there be such an opportunity to relax and take time off.

    So, in summary, to answer your question, yes, something does have to happen because having a guilt-free vacation imply that the onus is on someone else to get it fixed.

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  • idrees

    A hell of Hollywood, Bollywood, Lolywood Wallpapers and with a lot of entertainment, Plz come and join us ..

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