Research indicates increasingly blurred lines between holiday and work time
Wellness expert notes top ten tips to reducing stress, increasing productivity
London30 January 2013 – Expedia.co.uk, part of the world’s largest online travel agent, today revealed the rise of the ‘Bonus Break’ and encouraged travellers to consider shorter breaks to unplug from work for better work-life balance. Figures from Expedia’s Travel Wellbeing Report reveal that the lines between work and leisure are increasingly blurring, with both positive and negative effects.UK holiday makers are not only continuing to work whilst on holiday, they’re increasingly looking to merge work trips with leisure time, with35%of Brits noting they have added on a holiday to a work trip, particularly when abroad.
When it comes to the Millennial set, UK Millennials are twice as likely to extend a work trip in to a personal trip compared to their counterparts over 35.
“With the ever-increasing pressures of day-to-day life, people are getting creative and adding on holiday time when they can,” said Andy Washington, Managing Director of Expedia.co.uk. “Bonus Breaks are a great way to add a short break and briefly unplug from work without using up too much of your holiday allowance.”
It seems Brits, who receive less annual leave than most Europeans, are more likely to grasp every opportunity for a break than our European neighbours, by almost 10%. Despite having some of the largest holiday allowances in the world, more than three quarters of the French, Italians and Germans noted feeling vacation deprived, yet are more reluctant to create ‘Bonus Breaks’ for themselves (fewer than 28% do so).
When they do manage to get away on a leisure break, some travellers admit to being ‘always switched on’ to work whether they are close to home or on a global adventure. Even 16% of Brits admit to regularly checking their work emails or voicemail on holiday. This number rises to 1 in 4 for British Millennials.
It’s our western European counterparts who admit to more regularly checking emails and voicemail on holiday and to feeling more vacation deprived. In contrast, the Danes, Irish and Dutch are all more likely to unwind at the end of a business trip with a leisure break (between 34 and 44% have done so) and less likely to be regularly or constantly checking emails (33% or fewer do this). Revealingly in these nations, fewer than half feel deprived of holiday.
“Adding a short break to your holiday is a great way to get around the challenges of finding time with the pressures of conflicting schedules. Even short breaks can make us feel more rested and ready to tackle our ‘to-do’ lists when we return to work. The key is to use technology and flexible working to enhance – rather than interfere with – our holidays and much-needed time off,”Expedia’sAndy Washington added.
Indeed, the impact of holidays from work can be seen within our general attitudes toward happiness. Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational health psychologist, notes that people who are able to truly unplug from work whilst on holiday actually return to work more productive, with the vacation being central to our wellbeing.
“Adding holiday to your work can be a great way to unwind and get the best of mixing business with pleasure, but adding work to your holiday can actually reduce productivity in the long run – and no one wants to return to work feeling like you need a holiday all over again,” said Professor Cooper.
“Separate ‘work’ and ‘me’ time. We all use our devices while travelling – for many it is essential to navigating our way and sharing our experiences with friends and family at home – but simply switching your work email ‘off’ in settings can make it less tempting to check in. Clearly allotted moments to work and enjoy personal time when travelling will reduce stress and leave you feeling more rested.”
Professor Cooper’s Top Ten Tips for Relaxing While Travelling or On A Bonus Break
1. You have an out-of-office, so use it!The out-of-office is a reassuring placeholder and removes the constant obligation to check your inbox. If you do need to check in with colleagues, set the parameters and stay in control.
2. Try some mindfulness.It’s important that a holiday doesn’t just become ‘not-work’; be in the moment and make the effort to notice your environment.
3. Have a sense of purpose.The personal drive that work gives people isn’t something to just be dropped altogether when you’re taking a break. Setting yourself a challenge, whether it’s finding the best local street food or a long walk, can give that sense of achievement and well-being.
4. Have a conversation!Travelling isn’t the stereotypical commute with heads down, keeping yourself to yourself. Talking to the local crowd can help you ‘decompress’ from work, see life from another perspective and get the social aspect that helps us feel well.
5. Share. It’s not all about total downtime - send an e-postcard, tweet about your trip, or post photos online.
6. Exercise.It can be harder to make time for some physical activity when you’re travelling but it’s a vital part of staying relaxed and mentally well. Either make time for a run before you catch your flight, or book in an adventure activity whilst you’re away.
7. Eat well.That middle ground between work and leisure time can be about grabbing fast food on the go but healthy, nutritious diets are key to keeping our mood and energy levels high.
8. Schedule free time.It can be tempting to schedule your trip to ring every bit out of the time, but having a spare few hours just to spend with your loved ones will be rewarding and more refreshing.
9. Try some meditation for real travel downtime.If you’re finding it hard to tune out, on a plane, or on the first day after a tough work schedule, they are plenty of breathing and visualisation exercises that you can download on to a smartphone and take with you.
10. Finally, think about making time to do it all again.If you can see travel and holidays as a constant part of your work-life balance, it will be easier to focus on relaxing in the moment, rather than focusing on the ‘Bonus Break’ as a snatched piece of time before work starts again.
Notes to editors
This survey was conducted online from August 20, 2013 to September 12, 2013 across Europe, North America, South America and Asia Pacific by Harris Interactive among 8,535 respondents over the age of 18. In order to qualify to take the full survey, respondents had to be employed full time, part time or self-employed. In this report we consider Millennials to be those born between the early 80s and the mid 90s.
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