#13 Unplug!

Are you as addicted to being connected as I am? I’ve always got my phone with me, and I check messages and e-mails frequently. On a recent vacation in Hawaii, I took my laptop and checked e-mails and messages daily. “So that I don’t have a mountain waiting for me when

I get back” is what I told myself. I was wrong. I never REALLY went on vacation; I just moved my office to Hawaii for a week. It usually takes me 2-3 days of vacation to let go, to actually be on vacation. In Hawaii, by the time I was really on vacation, it was time to return home. (The picture is at one of the trees on Kauai that was featured in Jurassic Park.)

Next vacation, I’m leaving the laptop at home and using my phone only as a phone – for calls with family.

Can this work for weekends as well? One way to attract and retain the best and brightest is to give them their weekends off – to let them be completely away from work. This has two major benefits:

  1. They return much more refreshed and creative, and
  2. While they’re away from their jobs, their creative juices can come up with non-conventional ideas – the ones that have the possibility of dramatically moving your organization forward. Because people get more creative when they’re outside of the physical office, strategic planning retreats must be held at an outside location.

But wait! There’s more! You can even do this at lunch! I was consulting to the US plant of a German medical manufacturer. While I was visiting the German headquarters, I noticed that when we would leave for lunch, as soon as we got to the front door, conversation switched from work to “How about the football (soccer) club?” and continued in that vein all through lunch. “How was the skiing last weekend?” When we passed through the front door as we returned from lunch, we became laser focused on work Again. When I asked the partner of the German consulting firm why, he replied, “Because we get higher productivity and we keep our workers happy.” The look on his face was almost incredulous, as if we Americans didn’t understand anything about people.

If you’re agreeing with my idea, what will you do to implement it? How will you let your people know (and have them let THEIR people know) that you want them to leave their work at the company’s doors? How will you lead by example?

Gary

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