Don't Stay in Touch. We Don't Want to Hear From You.

Forget all those tips about how to stay connected. When you go on vacation, <i>go on vacation</i>. Your IT shop should be able to function without you.

Naomi Grossman, Contributor

August 20, 2007

3 Min Read

Anyone who has kids or knows someone who has kids or is slightly familiar with the whole kids' concept knows that somewhere in the last two weeks of August is a prime time for those involved with kids to take vacation. The reason is simple: There is nothing (nothing!) left to do with the kids. Camp programs are done, college kids are on their way back to school, and the teens that are left who work with kids are sick of taking care of them.

If you leave your kids to fend for themselves, it's hard to get much work done when every 15 minutes your phone rings and the voice on the other line greets you with, "So what should we do now?"

It's no wonder then, that this is when the annual slew of articles appear telling IT pros how to stay in touch with the office while on vacation.

Not surprisingly, there are many ideas for staying connected. Baseline has a slide show detailing nine ways tech managers can stay "informed without wasting too much time in the sun."

The tips cover all the "connectivity" bases from a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop to finding cybercafes to a unified messaging program. It's nothing anyone in the IT field hasn't heard before. In fact, we are constantly bombarded with the fact that with a little technological prowess and know-how, the IT pro can work from anywhere.

For most of the year, that concept is great and deserves being revisited occasionally, if only to let us know how we can take better advantage of the tech tools that are out there to work better on the road or from home.

But I have a tip for all you IT pros for staying connected when you go on vacation, and here it is: Don't. If you go on vacation, go on vacation. As it is, we're taking much less time off these days. Make the most of it. Talk to your kids, your spouse, your partner, the bartender, whomever you want. Don't check your BlackBerry, don't bring your laptop.

Baseline's tips do have some advice on how to "disconnect," but none of them involve not checking in with your work but, rather, minimizing your involvement -- like how to return calls without letting the recipient know where you're calling from and shutting off your smartphone at night.

Writes Eric Zeman in InformationWeek: "It may seem an innocent enough notion to 'just check' your e-mail on a device such as a BlackBerry for anything critical when presented with a few spare moments on vacation. The odds are, though, that you'll get sucked into responding to a few e-mails (even noncritical ones) and before you know it, you've missed happy hour in the pool and your spouse and/or kids may want to beat you up."

Sorry to burst your bubble, but no one employee is -- but, even, more important, should be -- so indispensable that you can't leave things in the hands of others for a while.

I recently interviewed Hal Baumgardner, the IT manager for C2 Technologies. One of his main points was this: When you set up your IT shop, you need to "think about being run over by a bus tomorrow." Why? The IT shop needs to be able to function without you.

The same goes, happily enough, for vacation time. This is not the time to be furtively checking your messages or returning e-mails or making calls for work. It's a time to relax, unwind, and clear your head.

Your IT shop should be able to hum along without you, and if it can't, you've got a problem.

Oh, and watch out for that bus.

- Naomi Grossman, Assistant Editor, You can write to her here.

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