For many years, I waited for my vacation as if I was breaking free from my daily life. I could finally escape from the day-to-day routine, enjoy life, travel, take care of myself, and rest. I was thoroughly planning my vacation several months in advance, during the cold winter days, making sure to block the precious time slots in my agenda so nobody could set meetings on those days.
I was getting more and more febrile and excited as my vacation got closer… Finally, I would “get the heck out of the office” no longer worrying about what’s happening at work. I was greedily counting the number of days left. The last week was always quite difficult, since I had to transfer files to colleagues, finish work that I had started, inform everyone of my absence, make plans to manage the stress of my teammates caused by my absence. People were happy for me and hoped that I was going to be able not to think about the office. Then, the last day of work was there and, pouf! my chains were falling off and I was able to escape from work! My smile was so wide; I even felt like skipping about.
What was I running from exactly?
Why was my feeling of liberty so intense?
Was my work so laborious and restricting?
This year was completely different. My vacation was getting close by, and I was not all that excited. I was glad and I knew it was going to be nice and fun, but I did not have any sense of liberation. When I left the office that Friday, it was like any other Friday.
Furthermore, the return was not as difficult. It was quite the opposite; I was looking forward to returning to work. I thought it was going to be nice to spend time with my colleagues and to find out what happened during my absence. I was not all stressed out the night before as I used to. In fact, I slept like a baby.
I understood that if my work environment is constraining, I will feel the need for liberty. If I’m confined to a specific box, I will not be able to bloom. In an open, welcoming, and flexible environment, I no longer have the desire to run away, since I am at ease in that type of environment.
Open, welcoming, and flexible…
It is paramount that the environment you work in fully welcomes the person you are. And the person you are is not limited to a few skills and talents listed on a résumé. Your overall experience, your interests, your good and bad sides, your beliefs, your abilities, and your emotions must be greeted. Your work environment must respect and greet your humanity; it must not be limited to a job description.
This welcoming allows to create a safe place where you do not have to retain your personality in order to show a professional façade because the rest isn’t acceptable. This safe place supports creativity and full engagement. It also frees people’s innovation. Then, they can accomplish themselves globally. Stress is therefore reduced, which too often leads to burnout or depression. It also removes the fear of being ourselves.
Do it for yourself. Do it for the others.
To achieve this, transparency is required… transparency to ourselves and towards others. And we must be supported by our environment. Transparency means having the possibility to talk to our colleagues about our good times and also the more difficult ones, to say the things as we perceive them rather than filtering information to make things look better than reality. We all have ups and downs, and it is way easier to face them as they come instead of relieving stress only after working hours or during our vacation!
Your work environment does not have to be different from real life. The work environment is created and being transformed by those working there. Open the doors, reduce the number of cubicles, use brighter colors for your walls, organize events allowing to find out about the talents of the people surrounding you, involve people in decision making, and free your environment, that way, you will not have to run away from it. Thereby, your vacation, no matter the time of year, will be used to carry out projects that are important to you.