Happy Independence Day to my American readers. I’ll be making my own bid for freedom next week as I hot foot it to the South Pacific with the other J Rice and Ricicles in tow. At least this week of darkness, rain and biting winds in NZ has made it all the more welcome.
It does raise the now traditional spectre of dread when it comes to leaving your recruitment desk for a week though. I say “now traditional”, because less than ten years ago it was still possible to actually switch off your phone, divert your emails, lock your CV cabinet and take the cat next door before truly escaping from the day to day humdrum of a busy recruitment desk. Nowadays, though, the surge in technological and communication capabilities, the ubiquity of the smartphone, and the spread of mobile networks has made this nigh on impossible.
As we celebrate the breathless advances in technology, some quarters have started referring to it as more of a curse. The technology that was supposed to free us, to make us more productive, to provide us greater work/life balance and enable a more flexible style of remote working, has in actual fact enslaved us. Now, you’re always working, wherever you are. With a smartphone in your pocket you’re constantly connected to the rest of the world, which also means you’re constantly connected to your clients, your candidates, and your boss. It is, after all, the same piece of technology as your desktop computer (in some cases more powerful) and your emails, texts and phone calls are always there on tap.
I saw a hilarious diagram posted on LinkedIn recently by Hugh Lloyd from Lloyd Executive, which pretty well sums up the emotions of a modern day recruiter taking leave of their desk for a few days:
Funny, but true. What it all comes down to really is preparation, and discipline. Technology is a great enabler of flexible working, better work/life balance, and more efficient productivity, if managed and controlled in the right way. If you prepare your desk for your absence with a clean inbox and prepped candidates and clients, then the worst you’re likely to come back to is a heap of spam emails peppered with some actionable items that can probably be dealt with on day one back at the desk.
There’s also a danger for those who lead and manage recruiters here. I know of several recruitment firms where the expectation of their staff is that they will always be available, whether at work or not, and even when on holiday, especially when the smartphone is provided and paid for by the company. I met with a senior consultant a couple of months ago who was about to head overseas for a well-earned break, and his manager was notorious for always chasing staff up about things while they were away. So intense was his desire, and need, for a break to properly recharge, he went as far as telling me that if his manager contacted him in any way while he was away, he would resign upon his return. Luckily for that manager, he managed in this instance to relent, hopefully showing enough awareness and leadership ability to recognise the need for one of his star performers to have a break (not so lucky for me, I suppose, as it deprived me of a great candidate!)
So anyway, I’ll follow my own advice I suppose, and will be switching off all communication devices for a week. While I’m off the grid I’ll leave the NZ recruitment community in the *ahem* capable hands of Sean Walters, who will also be bringing you next week’s blog (I hope). A professional “Out-of-Office” email divert is also in order, I suppose, although these days I’m tempted to stray off the path of the traditional and bland. The best one I saw during last summer was this:
“Hi there, I am away on annual leave catching big ones and living ‘off the grid’ with no cell or email coverage from the 27th Dec – 12th January, or my family will have confiscated my phone. Either way please do not expect a reply until Monday 13th January once I’ve remembered how to work a keyboard again.
Have a great Christmas and holiday season.
Slip, slop, slap people!”
That’s the way to do it aye? Aaaah summer…where have you gone? Catch you all later.