When you live in a country with as crazy a work culture as the UK, it’s really important to take a step outside of that sometimes and think about taking a break such as a sabbatical.
A recent survey commissioned by Opodo.co.uk interviewed workers from all over the world about their work lives and habits, and found that compared with employees worldwide British workers are more reluctant to take career breaks.
Overworking and not taking any time for yourself can mean that you run the risk of facing burn out, and damaging your ability to live a happy and healthy life long term.
When asked about the idea of taking a sabbatical, the study found that:
– British employees are wary of taking an extended break away from work because of long-term impact it might have on their careers. This is despite two-thirds of employees expressing interest in taking a so-called ‘sabbatical’.
– More than half think it would be more difficult than it was worth to return to work post-sabbatical
– One in five believe taking a bit of time off work will make them less employable
– More than a third (38%) said their company offers no flexible working benefits as part of their employment
– Major factors that influence interest in sabbaticals include workplace stress (50%), improving mental health (43%) followed by improving physical health (32%).
My thoughts on the survey
Opodo asked me for my opinion on the findings of its new research. Having lived the life of a digital nomad for a long time now, I can fully see the benefits of taking a bit of time off work to get away from it all and really think about who you are, and what you want out of health.
It’s nice to have a reset or a refocus every now and then, you might even want to work on passion projects you’ve always been putting off. Taking some time off for yourself is not a terrible thing, you might actually return to work way better than when you first left off.
Time for a change maybe?
The study that Opodo.co.uk had commissioned said UK companies were great in terms of holiday allowance compared to other countries. The only downfall was UK companies were less flexible sorrounding the idea of concepts such as taking a sabbatical.
More people than ever are starting up their own businesses, becoming self-employed and going freelance. And considering how stressful it can be to be a contracted employee for a British company, sometimes it hardly feels like any surprise!
If any of you reading this have been thinking that a break from work would enable you to really think about what you want out of life, and be more effective in your career going forward, then I would seriously recommend you have a think and maybe consider looking into your options that you might have avaliable to you.
Although we are lagging far behind compared to other countries when it comes to options such as flexible working hours, there is sign that a culture shift is happening, and we should be talking about it.
We live in a culture where people define themselves by work.
We still need to make money to live, and it’s a great thing to develop as a person by pushing yourself to attain and do more. But isn’t there more to life than just working?
I’ve always said that my attitude to life is ‘work to live, not live to work’. And considering how bad overworking can be for your mental and physical health, I think more people in the UK should look at their options.
The research from Opodo.co.uk also suggests that taking an extended break from work would actually be useful for many people.
feel reengerised and revitalized
Taking a break can help you feel reengerised and revitalized, ready to attack your workflow and problems with a fresh perspective.
However, the research also found that out of European nations Brits are least likely of all surveyed to return refreshed from their summer holiday.
Only one in four of us (23%) feel revitalised after a regular holiday or extended break, compared to 48% of people from Germany and 47% of respondents from the USA.
One of the guys at Opodo.co.uk had this to say about the whole issue: “It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed by the stress of working life, particularly now we are working longer hours until later in life.
Given to the advancements in modern technology, many now also have their work emails and calendar synced to their phone, meaning we’re no longer simply working 9-5 but are clocked on 24/7.
Use a sabbatical as a release valve.
Taking a sabbatical can be a great release valve for this stress and offer the opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted – whether that’s going travelling, learning a new language or skill, or just taking some time off to focus on yourself.”
When we all live such hectic lives that can be so stressful and demanding, taking a sabbatical could be just the thing you need to kickstart your life and find out what happiness really looks like for you. We live in such a huge, beautiful world.
It seems like such a waste to spend your whole life chained to a desk making someone else rich! It can be really scary to take the plunge and shake up your work life, but I promise you that the things you will find out there on your travels will make your bravery worthwhile.
I hope this article provided you with some food for thought about sabbaticals and your work/life balance!