I was shocked to discover that a third of the British working population are not taking their total annual leave allowance. That means that the UK is surrendering up to 54 million days of holiday time and instead spending it in the office. This behaviour is, in effect, making the office the country’s most popular holiday destination!
I’ve never really thought of work and life as separate. My work is my life, and vice versa. I’ve never been one to work set hours, or out of a traditional office. Over the years, I have worked from a houseboat, my home and, more recently, a hammock.
I’ve also spent a lot of my life travelling the world and visiting places that have motivated me to think differently and take Virgin where other businesses would never dream of going. It’s amazing how much you can broaden your mind and find inspiration in new settings.
But despite having a very flexible approach to how I work, I still take every August off to holiday with my family. Why? Because, holidays are a key part of ensuring our health and happiness.
Having a busy career doesn’t mean that you can’t live your life to the fullest. It’s important to prepare for the demands of the everyday, but it’s equally as crucial to enjoy life. We are human beings, not human doings – so let’s start acting like it by taking the time simply to be and appreciate the beauty of the world. Remember to be as well as to do, and if that proves hard, add it as a bullet point to your next to-do list, or put it in your work calendar as you would a meeting.
What’s more, businesses and business leaders should always encourage their teams to enjoy some downtime and take holidays. Across more than 50 years in business, I’ve learned one thing to be absolutely true: if you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of your business.