Returning To Work After Vacation

I had the good fortune to be on vacation for the previous three weeks. Originally my wife and I had planned a road trip from our home in Lindsay, Ontario Canada to Newfoundland on the extreme east coast of Canada.

However, with a strike at work that set me back approximately $2500.00 and a nagging shoulder issue my wife has had for a few years now, that plan was postponed. Instead, it was three weeks of staying put at home and doing some day trips; a 2.5 hour boat cruise in cottage country, some big city shopping, and relaxing at home in our backyard which we’ve put a lot of effort into making beautiful and a place to relax.

But with the conclusion of those three weeks, it was back to work yesterday. When you’ve been off for a week, sometimes people don’t even know you’ve been away if they aren’t in daily contact with you. A couple of weeks you might be more noticed missing, but after three weeks, you sure hope you’ve been missed. After all, if you’re not, maybe they get can along nicely without you!

After that period of time, you yourself might wonder too what if anything has changed in your absence. Now in my case, I found myself wondering that more than once while off, so I checked work emails every few days from home. My own mental guidelines doing this are to weed out the needless emails so I don’t have a cluttered inbox upon my return. There was the one for example asking fellow employees to wipe the toilet seat after using it so others wouldn’t sit down in someone else’s urine. Yep, definitely didn’t need that one, and I’m glad I’m at home so the suspicion of being the culprit didn’t wash over me.

The emails did tell me new computers are coming for some of us, and some minor staffing shuffles I was glad to know about. What I was most interested in actually was a series of emails that referred to some new training starting the week I was off to help staff learn the new computer software program our entire Province of Ontario will be rolling out in November. I could have used that training! One thing to be on the look to get involved with now that I’m back.

Here’s a question for you. Do you ever notice that when some people return there is very little fanfare while for others it’s like someone called a spontaneous parade? I sure have. Upon my return, I get a rather subdued reception, where people say, “Nice to have you back” and “How was your vacation?” I have some support staff outside my office, and one of the people who works there comes in whooping it up loudly and saying, “I’m back! Did you miss me everybody?” While some of us give her the standard, “Nice to have you back”, others whoop it up just as loudly and there are hugs all round, giggling and I feel I’m suddenly transported back to my high school where the cheerleaders are all giggling at their lockers about the pep rally after classes.

Ah but different strokes for different folks. Some need that fanfare and some don’t. What’s nice however is coming back to work after vacation and actually looking forward to being back. That for me is a good sign. It means I’m looking forward to seeing co-workers, helping clients and doing the work I’m paid to do.

A second thing I find it good to monitor and be aware of, is how long that post-vacation positive attitude lasts. Some people I hear make comments stating things like they can’t wait for the weekend to have another break, or they didn’t want to come back at all. These aren’t good signs.

One thing that’s good to remember and be aware of is that colleagues might not all be so happy to hear you go on and on about your wonderful time off, if they themselves have had their workload stretched doing both their work and yours. They might just be relieved to have you back to take that off their hands; and three weeks worth of work can pile up. In these situations, a sincere, “thanks for covering me, I really appreciate what you were able to get done” is definitely in order.

It’s only natural to spend some time-sharing how you spent your time, what you did, where you went etc. Be mindful of your audience however and take your cues from their comments. Don’t be like the host who subjects their guests to a four-hour showing of their home movies. Sometimes less is best.

It is good to be back. I’ve found I’m getting two new windows this week, and I’m thrilled with that. I know, I know big deal. But the space you work in really does have an impact on how you feel at work and you’re there a significant number of hours.

I hope like me, you find your time off enjoyable, and your return to work something to look forward to.

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