President Donald Trump is on day 4 of his non-vacation vacation
President Donald Trump embarked Friday on a 17-day “working vacation” at his Bedminster, N.J. golf club while the White House A/C system gets a long-due upgrade.
Deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters told reporters last week the President would “continue to work.” And Trump — perhaps because he’d railed against his predecessor’s Martha’s Vineyard stints and argued in his 2004 book that vacations had no point — has insisted he’s definitely not on vacation.
“Working in Bedminster, N.J., as long planned construction is being done at the White House,” he tweeted Saturday. “This is not a vacation – meetings and calls!” Video posted that day, meanwhile, showed POTUS exiting a golf cart to crash a wedding at his private club.
So should POTUS — or anyone on vacation, for that matter — be working hard or hardly working as they attempt to recharge? And what does a “working vacation” even mean?
The answer depends on whether you’re taking a legit “working vacation” or just working on vacation, according to Rebecca Fraser-Thill, a career coach with the Pivot coaching team and psychology lecturer at Bates College.
At a normal, non-presidential job, she told Moneyish, a working vacation is a “temporary remote-work arrangement” — meaning “you should be working equivalent to what you normally do,” only in a less mundane setting. “You’re still on the clock,” Fraser-Thill said. “You’re getting paid as usual, and the expectation is that you’re doing your normal job but you’re just somewhere vacation-y.” Working on vacation, on the other hand, means “choosing to dip your toe back in and keep doing some work” while you’re taking earned vacation days, she added.
Working hard from New Jersey while White House goes through long planned renovation. Going to New York next week for more meetings.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2017
Ken Matos, vice president of research at the consulting firm Life Meets Work, says the working-vacation concept is all relative. “If you are thinking of a working vacation as an alternative to not taking any vacation at all, then any amount of work is OK because you’re actually getting to take some vacation,” he told Moneyish. “But if you’re thinking about it in terms of ‘How am I getting to recharge and maximize my restoration?’ then any work at all is actually dramatically reducing that gain.”
Monster.com career expert Vicki Salemi advised against the combo altogether. “Working and vacation shouldn’t go together,” she told Moneyish in an email. “I suggest unplugging completely when an employee is on a vacation, though I know in certain industries and fields, especially high-stress jobs, it can be near impossible to fully unplug. However, even with an always-on job, there are ways to balance work and vacation by setting aside certain parts of the day to ‘work’ and other parts to ‘disconnect.’”
There’s always the question, though, of whether a commander-in-chief can ever truly check out. Fraser-Thill acknowledged time away from the White House was a vital way to recharge — but said taking a true, 100% vacation would be a “misunderstanding of the responsibilities of a President.” Matos saw no problem with it, as long Trump delegated responsibilities to a trusted inner circle. The issue isn’t whether Trump can step away, he said, but that his backup staff understands his “wishes and interests.”
“I would argue that a president can take a true vacation,” Matos said. “It’s probably unlikely that there’s not going to be any emergencies that would (require) somebody calling them, but in theory they should have a staff that can continue to carry out their agenda even while they’re unavailable.”
@BarackObama played golf yesterday. Now he heads to a 10 day vacation in Martha's Vineyard. Nice work ethic.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 15, 2011
As for reconciling Trump’s onetime disdain for time off with his current penchant for taking it — he’s on track for 53 full or partial leisure days by the end of August compared to Barack Obama’s 15 during a comparable period, per a Washington Post tally — it may be all about perspective.
“I think there’s a self-centered bias around taking vacations,” Matos said. “Our vacations are important, while other people’s vacations are inconvenience.”
Fifty-two percent of American workers afforded vacation days said they didn’t plan to use all of them, according to a December report from Bankrate.com, with a minimum of seven days typically left unused. But vacations can be vital for avoiding burnout, reducing stress-induced mistakes and retaining employees at a company, Matos warned.
“The organization as a whole benefits from people being able to take time to recover so they can bring their best work on a more regular basis,” he said.
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