In a viral TikTok video, a man argues that vacation time should not come with the expectation to reply to work emails, drawing the attention of more than 96,000 viewers on the platform.
User @tanneremc shares his frustration that his out-of-office reply, which states that he did not have access to his computer while on vacation and would not be able to respond to emails, went completely ignored by coworkers.
@tanneremc “No really, you should use as much pto as you can!” 🙃 This is what I get for attending to my mental health in corporate America. I truly and sincerely hate everyone. #corporatelife #pto #mentalhealthmatters #ReadyForHell #outofoffice #leavemealone #fyp #tiktokswithtanner ♬ original sound – tanneremc
“There is nothing quite like going on vacation in the United States,” he says. “I have an out-of-office up that says, ‘I do not have my laptop. I have zero access to email. I will not be back until this time.’ You want to know how many emails I have being like, ‘hey, we emailed you, didn’t hear a response back.’ I am not near, around my computer. There should be zero expectation that even if I did have my email going to my phone that I would be answering it on my vacation.”
While technology offered a swift switch to remote working for many when the pandemic hit in 2020, it also allows for constant connectivity that can easily lead to burnout. In 2021, the Condé Nast Traveler reported on the significant negative health effects of over-working, noting a study from Tampere University in Finland that states that vacation time is key to sustaining workers’ mental health. The study reports that the two most important factors of taking time away from work are a “detachment” from the job and “relaxation.”
Both of these can be difficult to achieve when one’s email inbox continues to field requests—even with a clear out-of-office note like @tanneremc’s.
On the TikToker’s video, commenters shared similar frustrating experiences wherein coworkers did not respect their desire to be left alone while on vacation. In particular, there was a strong sense of frustration with the unwillingness of others to read out-of-office replies.
“Basic reading comprehension is questionable in higher level management IMO,” one commenter replied.
“I tell people, ‘I don’t have an answer, my resource is out of office,’ and they act like I should be driving to their vacation spot to find out asap,” another commenter wrote.
“This notion that everyone is always available really needs to end,” a commenter wrote. “If I am out of the office for any reason, don’t contact me.”
Update 10:04am CT, June 21: When reached for comment, @tanneremc told the Daily Dot “it’s been really interesting to see how many people can relate to” his experience.
“It was encouraging, but at the same time, kind of disappointing. It’s great to be able to interact and kind of commiserate with folks. But it’s also shitty that we have to do that in the first place. It should be an expected part of working in corporate America that we’re working our asses off, we deserve to take a break. We deserve to disconnect and, recharge, rest up,” he said.
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