More Executives Leaving the Office Behind During Summer Vacation

Posted July 02, 2012 by

Like most of us, executives want to enjoy their vacations by actually vacating from their jobs.

As executives plan their summer getaways, a lot more of them will leave the office completely behind compared to previous years, according to a new Robert Half Management Resources survey.


CFOs were asked, “During your summer vacation, how often do you typically check in with the office?” Their responses:

2012 2010 2005
Several times daily 8% 18% 13%
Once or twice daily 11% 15% 21%
Several times a week 27% 12% 14%
Once or twice a week 2% 24% 26%
Do not check in 51% 26% 21%
Don’t know/no answer 1% 5% 5%
Total 100% 100% 100%


Paul McDonald, a senior executive director with Robert Half, noted that the continued trend of unplugging on vacation is good news. “It may indicate that executives have a stronger level of confidence in their teams and processes, and as a result, feel more comfortable skipping regular check-ins,” he said. “With the prevalence of wireless networks and mobile devices, they know they can be reached easily if needed.”

There are extra benefits to checking out, McDonald added. “Placing trust in a solid team to carry on without your guidance can help you identify potential candidates for succession planning and promotion.”

Still, not every executive feels comfortable disconnecting entirely, as evidenced by the higher number of CFOs (27 percent) planning to touch base several times a week compared to 12 percent in 2010 and 14 percent in 2005. “Many leaders continue to oversee lean teams and need to monitor critical initiatives over the summer months, making frequent contact necessary,” McDonald added.

While not every executive has the ability to unplug completely, those who can should. “By stepping away completely, people are more likely to gain the restorative benefits of vacation and return to the office recharged and more productive,” McDonald noted. “Managers also set a positive example when they disconnect, since employees may be inclined to follow suit.”

Consider the following tips for preparing to leave the office:

  • Set and stick with your out-of-office messages. If you say you’re not checking in, but then begin returning messages on vacation, you send mixed signals. If you’re inaccessible, stay that way.
  • Clarify what constitutes a crisis. Your definition of a crisis may be different from those on your team. Be clear with staff about what situations require escalation and to whom. If you expect to be notified of emergencies, provide a way for people to reach you quickly.
  • Limit surprises. Don’t expect staff to “wing it” while you’re away. Set people up for success in your absence by giving them a heads up on what issues may arise and how they can address them.
  • Acknowledge great work. On your return, thank the people who helped the office run smoothly in your absence, including your assistant. Make note of their efforts in their next performance review.
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