On Working on Vacation

Published on June 15, 2023 (↻ June 23, 2023), filed under and (RSS feed for all categories).

Working while on vacation can be a sign of extraordinary commitment and initiative.

But—it can also be a sign of disorganization and poor prioritization.

Working on vacation should be discouraged, because vacation is explicitly there to disconnect and recharge from work. Clearly, work on vacation is still work.

Working on vacation also sends the signal it was normal or even expected to work while on vacation. (The strength of this signal depends on role and responsibilities.)

Still, if not prohibited by law, it may be acceptable—everyone is an adult and manages their own time.

Working on vacation may be noted, then, to protect and guide the peer in question; but it should not be especially recognized or rewarded, so as not to provide an incentive not to take time off. That would be unhealthy, defeating the whole point of vacation.

And still!—if working on vacation is required, say, to help during an emergency, it may be recognized and rewarded by having the respective vacation days refunded, converting the time into work time, and allowing the peer to take off at a different time.

❧ I do light work on vacation, because I love my work, because work doesn’t feel like work to me. But as a manager, my thinking around it has long changed, at least in terms of the signals it sends. This is my current thinking; it may change again; and I’m curious about other perspectives.

I drafted this one and a half years ago, my thinking didn’t change much, I’m publishing this—on vacation.

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About Me

Jens Oliver Meiert, on September 30, 2021.

I’m Jens, and I’m an engineering lead and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for companies like Google and as an engineering manager for companies like Miro, I’m close to W3C and WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly and Frontend Dogma.

With my current move to Spain, I’m open to a new remote frontend leadership position. Feel free to review and refer my CV or LinkedIn profile.

I love trying things, not only in web development, but also in other areas like philosophy. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.