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Wish you were here…

Laura Capell-Abra says working every hour God sends is reductive, and eventprofs should be savouring their holiday time.


I remember when holidays would involve time spent trawling gift shops trying to find the perfect postcard, then scrawling imaginative anecdotes like “It’s really hot here” or “spent the day in the pool”. Then you would spend even longer trying to buy stamps and posting it, all the while hoping it would arrive home before us.  

When I got back from my holiday this summer, I had to admit to myself that I had worked every day in some form, (and sadly not one postcard was sent).  It made me question when was the last time I actually had a break from work?  There is the obligatory Sunday afternoon and evening to get ahead for the week, and I’m lucky if I manage to keep a Saturday entirely work free.  

We know from our Stress Matters research that 50% of the industry works more than 50 hours per week. But why do we do it?  We know that certain parts of our industry, exhibitions and festivals in particular, regularly see their teams working for 20 days straight during busy periods. It’s always caveated with a “they get the time back in lieu”, but is that good enough? 

Research suggests that in an eight-hour day, the average worker is only productive for two hours and 53 minutes. Working more hours or more days without sufficient rest doesn’t increase productivity at the same rate.

In a study of consultants by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, managers could not tell the difference between employees who actually worked 80 hours a week and those who just pretended to. So, by working more days, and longer hours, we are not getting more from our teams.  

We are generally legally entitled to one day off each week or two consecutive days off in a fortnight but many corners of our industry don’t get that. As part of the Stress Matters pledge scheme, we simply say that team members are not expected to work for more than 14 days without two days off.

So, let’s make sure we take those days off and savour them. I challenge you to spend some time finding and sending a postcard.