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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Working Vacation

Dear Sue: I just got back from a much-needed vacation, and did not get the relaxation I had hoped for. I planned this vacation months in advance so my boss knew I was leaving. When I reminded him of my plans, he told me to be sure to take my computer and "check in" while I was gone.

I was speechless. Although I was thinking about taking my computer anyhow, I really hadn't planned on responding to all of my e-mail or keeping up on work related items. 

I thought was my time to get away from work and the pressures associated with it. I never did "get away from it all", and ended up dealing with issues and answering questions from my office while I was gone.

Is this common practice? Is it right for my boss expect me to do stay connected to the office while I am on my vacation? 

- Need time off

Sue Says: I don't know that it is common practice yet, but I am hearing a lot about people who have a difficult time disconnecting from their work and offices - even on vacation.

Whether or not your boss was right or wrong about asking you to "keep in touch" depends somewhat on the type of work you do and how time sensitive it is.

It is possible that your boss only meant for you to check in once or twice while you were gone, in the event there was a problem or question for you to answer. 

In the future you can prepare for this ahead of time, and handle things differently. When you plan your next vacation, if possible, arrange to be gone at a time when the demands of your job are at their lowest.

When you inform your boss that you will be going on a family vacation, tell him that with the exception of an emergency, you will be unavailable. 

Prior to your departure, if your boss suggests that you "check in" while you are gone, let him know that you have made arrangements with the others in your department to cover for you and that you are using this time to catch up on your personal and family time.

It is important to have a real vacation and a much-needed break from all of the connections technology offers. 

Readers, what is your view on this? Do you think that someone should be expected to keep in touch with the office while on vacation? I'd like to hear from you, and I will print your responses in a future column.

Dear Sue: I work for a very strong willed person. When I first came to work for this man, he admired my strong independent nature. He told me he wanted someone with initiative and leadership abilities. Well, I think his controlling nature got the best of him because he began to question every move I made. 

We had several discussions about this, and I decided to leave. I know he is very angry with me. I have never experienced this type of treatment before and have always helped out for several months after leaving a job when it was necessary. I am not sure how to end this relationship or what to say when asked why I left.

- Donna

Sue Says: Helping out for several months after leaving a job is nice, but not necessary. Give your two-week notice and leave on the best terms possible under the circumstances.

If asked about your departure, don't worry about giving too detailed an answer. Whether you say you wanted a change, are looking for new opportunities or a greater challenge, focus on the positive aspects of this position and what you hope to accomplish in the future.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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