When on leave, Be on leave

Gerry Chng
3 min readDec 20, 2020
Unsplash (@chenhanozel)

Throughout my career, I have had the privilege to work with many fantastic people.

Every once in a while, you come across that special individual. Someone who seems to possess an endless supply of energy. Never resting, always around. These remarkable individuals have the extreme motivation to do more and to bring their teams to greater heights.

They may sometimes call themselves workaholics.

There is never enough time in a day for them to do all the things they want to do, and they often spend their nights working or will be back at work during their leave.

If a client meeting is scheduled during their leave, they might say “It’s okay, I’m on leave — but I will dial in”.

I have often needed to slow these individuals down.

“When on leave, be on leave” — is a phrase I found myself saying often lately.

Usually, I get a response that it’s okay, they don’t mind working during their leave, and I had to take the time to explain the broader consequences of their good intentions.

Thank you — but it is not okay.

Firstly, this is a chance for you to recharge and give yourself a chance to process all that you have gone through. It’s a time to relax, and allow your subconscious to piece together all the recent experiences. Do not deprive yourself of this chance to grow in character.

Secondly, other people are watching your actions — and quietly forming their perception of “culture”. You are telling your coworkers that it is okay to work during leave — or even that you are expected to work during their breaks. Your actions have a longer-term and broader implication than you believe.

Thirdly, it creates an obligation for team members to go at your pace, on your schedule, regardless of which party is supposed to be on leave. Everyone is going through something, at some point. Your actions might deprive a child who was looking forward to a bedtime story. A kid looking out to an empty chair during a school performance. A parent who is going for a medical checkup by themselves. Or just a coworker with a grumpy day because the normal sleep cycle was disrupted.

Gerry Chng

Tech Enthusiast | Curious about the future | Student in Sociology and Emerging Tech