A Day Off, or a Day On?

Jul 4, 2007

Happy Fourth of July! The New York Times ran a light story on Wednesday about the awkwardness of the holiday falling in the middle of the week, forcing employees and employers to choose between taking a 5 day weekend or one lonely day, or even just working through the week. Anecdotally, small business owners and independent workers were more likely to be working yesterday. “A small business owner, you very rarely get to take time off. The only benefit to me is if everyone else is off Thursday and Friday, it’ll be quieter, and I can get some work done,â€? said one man in legal services. And another independent worker added, “People who are bootstrapping their own businesses that I’m trying to reach are usually reachable. People who are with bigger companies are on vacation.â€? For me and most independent workers I know, "flexibility" means being available almost any day of the year, and checking email from anywhere, anytime. (Ryan Healy, a 20something worker who runs the Employee Evolution blog, has a recent post up on the same topic, where he says an hour or two of work per 'vacation' day on his own projects seems perfectly normal, even enjoyable, to him.) And most of us try to balance our work time between high connectivity--meetings, phone calls--and those times like nights, weekends, and vacations when the email and phones are quieter and you can really hunker down and do actual work. The irony is, as fewer of us work for big corporations, we can't always rely on those synchronized quiet times.  And on vacations it gets even more difficult to unplug when you know others are back there working away. Maybe we should shift to the all-of-August model they love in Europe, although that, apparently, is in decline too.