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Should you take your phone on holiday?

Christian Smith, one of O2’s business managers, asked his customers whether they keep their phones on while they’re on holiday.

With annual leave time upon us, the great debate rages (at least in some circles) – should you leave your work phone on or off.

I was on annual leave last week, and as usual I was getting the grief regarding doing work while away. I say working – we’re talking 30 minutes to an hour a day to make sure things are ticking over and that my customers are happy. But I found myself wondering, should I have just decided that I need a week off completely? Switch off and have a digital detox?

I was interested to hear what other people have to say on this. What are our expectations, and our customers’ expectations? So I reached out via my LinkedIn blog, and got some heartfelt responses.

Phone on

When we’re at home we LOVE flexible working. If someone tried to tie me to a desk, it wouldn’t be long before I’d be looking to move company. But working at the whim of customers can mean for many of us (myself included) that we need to answer queries immediately or it could mean a loss of business (selfishly) or service (unselfishly). I for one feel undoubtedly more stress when I’m left off the email chain.

This flexible approach has made it easier than ever to work from wherever you want in the world. For example, O2’s European and international rates are at an all-time low, and we’re signing up businesses left, right and centre for them.

It’s understandable – firstly, you don’t miss out on any potential new business that would otherwise be lost (or worse, assigned to a colleague).

Secondly, you know that when you come back to work, the small stuff is already taken care of – eliminating those first day back panic sweats. And you’ll be offering your customers a next level of service and showing how much you value them. People like that.


“I cannot relax on holiday when I’m completely disconnected from work. I need to remain informed. I’m in the ‘ON’ camp.” – Andrew, director

“When I was an employee my phone was switched off when I was on leave. However now as a business owner it will most definitely be left on… always on the lookout for the next opportunity!” – Roy, business development consultant


Phone off

Managing directors don’t turn their phones off (I know this because I talk about international phone usage A LOT), so why should the rest of us?

Well, because we’re entitled to. Annual leave forms part of our employment package, and we’re always hearing about how important our health and wellbeing is to our employers.

The number of British workers suffering from ‘burnout’ from working excessive hours has apparently soared by 15% since 2010. We associate no work with less stress, increased relaxation and just getting the well-deserved break we need. Probably keeps the other half happy too.

At least on holiday, with a little bit of forward planning, we should be able to make the space for some proper downtime so that we’re more effective and productive when we need to be.


“Any reasonable stakeholder will appreciate that professionals have a life outside work. As long as they’re assured that their business need will be met in a timely manner, then they’ll feel respected and not have their head turned by other suppliers. It’s important to respect your clients but it’s just as important to not neglect those dearest to you for the sake of chasing the almighty dollar.” – Christopher, print industry

“If it’s my employed entitlement then I switch off.” – Peter, business development consultant


A happy medium

For many however, the answer could lie somewhere in the middle – a small amount of work to ensure things are ticking over, while still taking the time to get off the treadmill, at least for a while. For me, I feel more comfortable dedicating a small amount of time each day, along with being available for urgent responses.


“A work life balance is important. As a director of my own company my phone is always on but I tend to check my emails just once a day, usually of an evening before heading out just to make sure major issues aren’t being left.” – Luke, director/consultant

“Flexible working is a two-way street. Phone on, but silent mode at important times. Smart use of technology also helps; out-of-office reply and temporary voice mail greeting with informative content, including advice about using text messages for non-intrusive urgent contact.” – Gary, quality manager


Ultimately, you’ll need to make your own decision about the type of holiday you grant yourself. But whichever approach you decide is best for you, you certainly won’t be alone.


Need a new or spare phone for your holiday? Take a look at the latest models and get some great deals in the O2 Business shop

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