Using Zoomerang’s survey technology (www.zoomerang.com), WorldWITT, the world’s largest online community for professional women, a Chicago company founded in 1999, recently asked its 40,000 members, “Do you plan to take a vacation from work this summer?” An overwhelming 90 percent answered yes and 75 percent of those respondents say that they will be gone for a week or more at one time. In fact, 55 percent of the women surveyed said that they plan to use 50 percent or more of their 2006 vacation time in the summer months alone, though 10 percent don’t plan to take a vacation at all.

In addition, 64 percent of women, who make up nearly half of our nation’s workforce, plan to completely unplug while on vacation — leaving co-workers to fend for themselves. In fact, they vow not to check E-mail or voicemail or to take any work with them. One respondent said, “Unless the building is burning down or someone is hurt, I practice what I preach to my employees — taking time off means taking time off.” Another said, “When I am on a family vacation, they are more important. Work has my attention on all the other 50 weeks of the year.”

“The good news is that women are recognizing the need to separate themselves from work during their vacation — it is a time to recharge,” Liz Ryan, WorldWITT CEO, said in a prepared statement. “It is important to create a time and place to decompress especially during scheduled vacations,” she continued.

Ryan advises women not to combine work and vacation and has the following advice to offer to help make your time off an actual vacation:

Designate a back up. In order to successfully unplug during vacation without leaving colleagues in the lurch you must designate a specific backup or point person.

Draw your boundaries. Review the parameters under which you would need to be contacted.

Define critical.

Short-circuit any surprises. In addition, communicate, communicate, communicate! It’s vital that you remind clients, bosses, co-workers and vendors when you will be gone and for how long so that there are no surprises. Also, don’t forget to engage your “out of office” reply and include your point person’s info.

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