When a vacation becomes an office away from the workplace

PHOTO: When a vacation becomes an office away from the workplace

PETALING JAYA - Armed with smartphones and laptops, Malaysian workers are willing to work while on vacation but only if it is an emergency requiring their urgent attention.

And just as Expedia's recently released "2013 Vacation Deprivation" study has revealed, for many, "vacation is just an office away from the office".

According to the US-based travel portal's report, over 90 per cent of working adults in Malaysia, France, Mexico, Thailand and India "constantly, regularly, or sometimes" check e-mails and voicemails while on holiday.

Senior customer service executive Agatha Tan, 30, checks her work e-mails in the mornings or at night when on vacation.

"I set aside time to get some work done even though I have a colleague backing me up at the office while I'm away.

"There are certain queries that only I can address, so it's irresponsible to dump everything on my colleague just because I'm on leave," she said.

Auditor Pauline Chow, 27, monitors her office e-mails for the first few days of her holiday as some clients may not know she is on leave.

She is not expected to work while on vacation unless there are urgent ongoing matters that need her attention.

"For example, if I am in charge of a job and there are deadlines, I will be asked to help," she said.

"In my industry, labour resource allocation can be planned in advance," she said, adding that employees should not take leave during peak periods as those at work will be stressed out.

Bank officer M. Jeya Kumari, 27, does not check e-mails on holiday unless she receives an urgent call to do so.

She said bosses should not go overboard by taking employees for granted.

"There must be mutual respect. When bosses are on vacation, we as staff, should only contact them as a last resort," she said.

Sales executive Nur Fatimah Abdullah, 29, said it was unfair of employers to base their staff's performance appraisal on whether they are willing to work while on leave.

"Not answering calls and e-mails while I'm on vacation doesn't make me a bad employee.

"Being on leave means you're off work - that's why e-mails have an auto-response function," she said.

Marketing manager Tiffany Tan, 35, said superiors tend to take advantage of "responsible employees".

"This usually happens because bosses know that such employees will get things done no matter what," she said.

She said managers must prioritise tasks they need done immediately and those that can be completed later.