Between smartphones, email and messaging apps, workers are more available than ever. That can be great for office productivity but terrible for disconnecting after hours.
Rod Garcia is a senior director of engineering at Slack and, before joining the company in 2019, tells CNBC Make It he was "guilty" of checking work messages while on vacation.
Pandemic burnout and becoming a father in the last two years made him change his perspective. Work could wait for life's big moments, and he could be proactive in making sure messages didn't creep into his personal time.
Here, Garcia, 38, shares the top five ways he uses Slack to disengage from work while on PTO — and reconnect when he's back.
Instead of a traditional out-of-office email, Garcia says all of his team's work happens in Slack. So, two weeks before any planned vacation, he'll update his Slack status with details about when he'll be out. This way, his message will appear anywhere his name pops up in channels and direct messages.
"It helps prepare the organization so it's not a surprise," he says.
Even with advanced notice, things will come in last-minute. That's when reminders come in handy. If Garcia gets a message on his way to the airport, for example, he'll set Slack to remind him of the message later so he can follow up on it when he's back.
When he's finally off the clock, Garcia will update his Slack status that he's out of office and mark his return date to remind his team when they can get back in touch with him.
He'll also include a list of who to contact for specific business needs so everyone covering for him stays in the loop.
While Slack offers the option to delay-send a message, Garcia will still get incoming pings while away. So, he uses Slack's "do not disturb" mode, scheduled for the duration of his trip, so he can control when he gets messages and notifications.
For any true emergencies, users can override the "do not disturb" function and send a direct message and notification once per day.
When Garcia returns from a vacation, he'll send a message to his team's Slack channel with a little update on where he went and what he did, plus a few photos.
Garcia says it's a way to connect with his team and say, "I'm very excited to be back because I feel recharged and rested."
"Those type of messages are really important to show that I'm human and that I have family," he adds, "but also to model behavior for other folks in the organization to say, 'hey, you need to take vacation.'"