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CIOs share their secrets to unplugging on vacation

Kacy Zurkus | June 23, 2015
IT executives have learnt how to build strong, reliable and trustworthy teams so that no one person is the single point of contact. That not only allows for more efficiency, it lets CIOs unplug on summer vacations.

Escalation process leads to relaxation process

Having an escalation process in place helps executives to step away and enjoy vacation time. "I love my job and the people I work with, but I work to live, and I enjoy my time away," Glennon says. "Work can be stressful and I ensure my staff have a good work-life balance, and I try to do the same."

The challenge for many executives is knowing that emails will pile up very quickly. "I try to go off the grid completely, but based on the daily volume of inbound mail I tend to check several times while I am out," Glennon admits.

Even though Glennon and many others are checking email to avoid build up, they are able to let go to a large extent. "I have good folks on my team and I trust them to keep the place running in my absence," Glennon says. Many executives credited the expertise of their teams and expressed that being able to trust their staffs helps them to relax while out of the office.

"I put a lot of stock into a work-life balance," says Jennifer Minella, vice president of engineering at Carolina Advanced Digital. She admits that learning to disconnect was a process for her, but she says she realized that she needed to change her habits and mindset.

Many have the intention of leaving work at work, but the need for peace of mind or the fear of disaster keeps them connected, especially when they have access to work email on their phones, which are always with them. "I'd tell myself that I was just going to check my mail to stay ahead of the curve and delete the junk, but checking it wasn't putting me ahead, it was putting me behind," says Minella.

"It's like a diet," says Minella. "If it's not sustainable, it won't work."

Baby steps to disconnecting

So what is the best diet for disconnecting? "Take little bites," Minella says. "I started by trying not to look at my email at night. I wake up at about 4:30 a.m., so it was only about four hours to start, but I realized that nothing happened during those four hours."

It's these small steps that make being able to completely disconnect for a week's vacation possible. Minella says her process for ensuring that all runs smoothly in her absence addresses three concerns: preparation, team and mindset.

In preparing for a vacation, executives can let people know that they will be gone and who their escalation point contacts are, says Minella, who puts an auto reply on her email days or even a week before she is going away to alert partners, customers and colleagues that she'll be out of the office.


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