Did you know that 55% of Americans don’t use all of their vacation time each year? First of all, that’s bananas. Taking time away from work, even if it’s only staying at home for some me time, is proven to make you happier and healthier. Plus, I personally think it’s the best time to reassess bigger life goals and aspirations. It just makes sense. Meeting due dates, maintaining inbox zero, and just preparing for the days to come is enough to keep you busy. That’s why my favorite vacations are the ones that make doing those daily operations extremely difficult if not downright impossible. I don’t mess around. When I want a vacation, I’m all in. On the flip side, if there is a business or personal emergency, the last thing I or my employer would want is for me to be Missing In Action.
Staying in Touch… When You Want To
At this point, I doubt many readers are disagreeing with me. Vacation = good and responsibilities = compliance. But how do you comply? If you’re already a VirtualPBX customer or a frequent visitor of the blog, you may have a few inklings, but this is how I do it.
- VirtualPBX Softphone – There is no way I am going to take a desktop phone through airport security on a weekend trip. Conversely, I am not about to give out my personal number to all of my coworkers, our business partners, and our customers. Cue the VirtualPBX Softphone. Personally, I have the app installed on my mobile phone and my laptop and use each as the situation calls for. If anyone needs me, they just call my extension as they normally would and I will answer provided I have adequate data or wifi.
- Follow Me Calling – Ideal for the times when I have successfully removed myself from adequate internet access, our Follow Me Calling feature on both vConsole and Dash kicks in. For any employee who ever needs to answer calls while on the go or outside of business hours, I strongly recommend adding your mobile phone in your Follow Me Calling flow. This ensures that when all other options are exhausted, your call can still reach you, even without giving your mobile out to anyone who asks. Provided you want to answer it, that is…
- Forwarding Voicemails to an Email Address – I don’t always want to answer calls. Especially not on vacation. Especially when it’s not urgent. But I also don’t want to miss out on timely opportunities. That’s why I get a copy of each voicemail sent to my email inbox. This works great for forwarding voicemails to those in the office who can act on them right away.
Not in the Office, But Not on Vacation Either
I recently found myself in a very lucky position. My partner is a grad student studying specific politics in Peru, and as an integral part of his program he was required to complete on-site field work. This field work was due to last 13 months and I was absolutely not prepared for us to be away from each other for this length of time. Luckily, VirtualPBX embraces remote work and places trust in its employees to remain productive and available. So I joined him! I had previously answered business calls on hotel balconies and forwarded voicemails while capitalizing on free airport wifi while traveling in the past, but I discovered that setting up a home office abroad was an entirely different experience. Here’s what I learned:
- Internet Services Vary Internationally – Did you know that not every ISP will provide internet to every device? Neither did I. Our ISP of choice did not support the latest macOS and for a few days I played device tango – doing work on a Mac and passing files to my Android mobile phone where I would ultimately email or Slack them to a coworker. It was annoying. It was far from productive. And it was a solid lesson in vetting services thoroughly.
- Have an Internet Access Backup… Or Two – Guess how patient I was with device tango? Not very. Always have a second location you can depend on – a cafe, a co-working space, a library, something. I also strongly recommend looking into a USB option or hotspot to deliver your internet, but be aware that the rates and connection quality of those can vary widely.
- Enjoy Yourself! – New environments are more difficult when you don’t jump in and embrace them. I found it was easy to fall into a routine and completely forget that I was in another country with ample adventure at my doorstep. Plus, no matter how fleeting the moment is, take advantage – you only live once! (See my evidence of that below!)