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The Value of Taking Vacation

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At school I was a great fan of vacations – here in Russia we have a total of 4 months of vacation a year while at school – and it was never enough! It all changed after university, but got even worse at Intel Russia– I didn’t like vacations. Even the long bank holidays in Russia from Dec 31 till Jan 10 seemed uncomfortable. The reason was simple – if you like your job, you hated to be disconnected from the world of your professional network at Intel. Sometimes you’re even afraid that your stake in some serious project may be overseen by someone. The fact that we don’t have sabbaticals in Russia seemed to me as an advantage.

But after some time, especially as the area of my responsibility grew, I realized how important, even business-critical, vacation is. I know some people who really love their time off (and spend it doing cool things or achieving new heights), but there are others who don’t. As I learnt from them and changed my mind to value my vacations, let me share my ideas of why vacations is a serious thing to consider (no matter if you’ve working for Intel or not). It’s pretty simple – I could have put together a couple of slides to justify this point of view within a couple of minutes :). Here they go in plain text:

  • Vacation means switching the context. It gives a person a unique opportunity to see the problems from another standpoint. Sometimes it’s difficult for us to accept another person’s view. After vacation with no email access I feel like I am a different person and I view things from a different angle. It really helps.

  • Vacation is important for one’s family. Personally, I know that I work to provide my family with the quality of life they deserve, but my wife’s, parents’ or kids’ points of view opens a different perspective. Their quality of life depends on how much time I spend with them. And they deserve this time at least equally as the apartment, nice clothes and cool gadgets I buy them with the money Intel pays me. And regular vacations help me to give them what they expect: time together.

  • For a leader (people or project manager), vacation is a test of his or her success in leading the team. If during thecouple of weeks when I’m away from my email and phone can ruin the project deliverables or negatively impact the team in any way – then I’m not doing my work in leading the team right. The analogy is simple: a leader isn’t a driver with a steering wheel switching gears – it’s someone who paved the way and provided appropriate, easy-to-understand guidance by signs and maps for any driver to get to the destination. And if a good leader is away for some time, then the trucks can still safely follow the road to get the job done.

  • Last but not least – as an Intel employee, I benefit from pre-negotiated corporate rates with hotels, car rental companies, etc. for my personal trip. This helps me get the best value for my vacation. And my family also appreciates that.

So I’m a great fan of vacations, again! Time-off has a definite business value and as a shareholder I can’t ignore it. Now, when I’m back in office after my wife and I spent two wonderful weeks in Hungary and Austria (see how happy we are!), my call to action to anyone who hasn’t taken his or her vacation yet – think of it from my perspective and start planning it!