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A simple trick to ensure you properly switch off on holiday this summer – The guide to having your best summer holiday ever – A guestblog by Woohoo Happiness at Work Community Member Richard Clark. Follow Richard on Substack


Soon you will be on holiday but how can you make sure that this time you properly disconnect from work?

Last week I told a friend that this summer I won’t check my work email at all while I’m away. I won’t even have it on my phone in case of an emergency, and I will have no way of looking at it unless I can miraculously remember my 16-character password with symbols in it.He was flabbergasted.

“How do you know if everything is OK?”

“What do your team do if your team needs you?”

“How can you relax if you don’t know what is going on?”

woman in black tank top and black shorts sitting on white textile
This could be you this summer – no email worries here.

Before I hand over my secret, I want to highlight a couple of important points …

Why disconnecting is good for you and your team

Firstly –  for all those people who think they can properly disconnect and still check work emails. You can’t.

Just as you can’t multitask, you can’t enjoy the mountains in France if you’re thinking about your office in Slough. You’ve heard a million times you need to be in the moment. This is what they are talking about.

Secondly –  if you take a break from work, and I mean a proper break where you don’t think about work at all, it gives your brain time to organise your thoughts. That’s why, when you come back from holiday, you often feel a sense of clarity.

Thirdly – If you don’t disconnect and you constantly check your emails, you are telling your team, “I don’t trust you”.

Diary of a CEO podcast June 2024


Taking a proper break is important for you AND your team.


The step-by-step secret to disconnecting

The goal is not to worry that there is not some unresolved emergency.

This is what you need to do …

  1. Nominate a person that will cover you while you’re away. Someone who knows enough about your work to handle most situations.
  2. Set up a communication channel with the person so they can contact you in case of an absolute emergency – WhatsApp, Messages, whatever you want, but NOT your work email.
  3. Create an out of office email.
    1. Put the name of the person to contact in your absence (This is SUPER important, you need to know that someone is dealing with your emergency).
    2. Add an Emergency Hippo – to your out-of-office email. This is the clever bit. In your out-of-office message say, “if you need me to reply to this message on my return add “Hippo” to the subject line, if you need me to reply urgently on my return, add “Emergency Hippo” to the subject line.”
  4. Delete your work email app from your phone and make it difficult for you to actually open your email program.

And that’s it. It’s not rocket science. But if you’ve been struggling to disconnect and you follow these steps, it will genuinely change your life.

If someone emails you with an emergency, your colleague will try to fix it and if they can’t they’ll call you. Consequently, you won’t need to worry if there’s an unresolved emergency that needs your help. Because if there is, you will get a call.

Secondly, your team will feel you trust them. And if you give them the freedom to resolve problems themselves, they will actually perform better.

As a bonus, when you get back, a quick search in your email for “Emergency Hippo” and you’ll see everything you need to do first.

Here’s an example

What no to do

Last week I received one out-of-office that said “I am currently on holiday but will be checking my emails periodically and will get back to you at the earliest convenience.”

Although well intentioned, this out-of-office leaves everyone in a state of uncertainty. The sender is expecting this person to deal with their email while on holiday so won’t contact anyone else to help. This person will therefore have to check their email while they’re supposed to be relaxing, meaning  they won’t be able to properly switch off.

It doesn’t work for the sender, the person on holiday or the team.

I know, for some, totally disconnecting will seem very alien.

“I need to check my emails everyday.” “What happens if x or y happens?”

Trust me, it’ll be OK.

Trust your team, that’s why you hired them.

And enjoy your break.

And anyway, as Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, said – There’s really not much you can do to help while you’re mountaineering in Argentina anyway.

Do this and not only will you enjoy your holiday a lot more, but when you get back to work you’ll feel properly refreshed, and you will feel a sense of clarity that you didn’t have before you went away. Your team will probably feel a bit more empowered too.

Don’t want to miss Richards next post? Follow him on substack here


Author Fennande

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