This is really the first year I have noticed this but it’s happened a couple times:
When scheduling meetings around the holidays (let’s take Thanksgiving for example), people assume that they can schedule right up to the date. My guess is that these people are married and/or have kids at home and/or live near relatives. They may celebrate Thanksgiving at their own homes and then they’re ready to get back to work. That’s great for them. They obviously don’t get the honor of experiencing Christmas spaghetti at my house. The opening of the sauce jar brings a sentimental tear to my eye. OK, I have only done this once but still.
For many single folks, especially ones that are located away from family (we relocate a large number of our new hires so we should be accustomed to this at Microsoft), the holidays will involve getting on a plane. You know, the same is true for small families that make the trek to “grandmas house” over the holidays. I don’t know if anyone else experiences travel fatigue like I do but the idea of staying for 2 days, turning around and coming back isn’t exactly met with enthusiasm. Plus, I have vacation time to burn at the end of the year.
As much as I understand peoples desire to get stuff done (the focus of some of my favorite people, in fact), I propose that when they are scheduling a meeting during this season (I only mention Thanksgiving and Christmas because those are the late-year holidays I have personal experience with), they not schedule them the week before or the week after the holiday in question. I have to say that I HATE the idea of calling into a meeting while I am on vacation. When I am unplugged, I am unplugged and a meeting can suck me back into work mode like you wouldn’t believe…I’m one of those people that totally needs to disconnect to reap any benefits from it. Regularly scheduled meetings that people can miss (team meetings, etc.) are fine because missing them is OK, but unique meetings, please refrain.
I generally think about the time between Thanksgiving and the beginning of the new year as time to get organized and catch up. Also, since candidates are at home, it’s a good time to reach those that may be looking for a new career move. That’s what I’ll be doing when I am not taking vacation time.
I guess I am just saying that the in-towners should remember that some of us aren’t going to spend a solitary holiday so we can attend meetings and that the prospect of engaging on those meeting while on vacation is a big buzz kill. Yes, work needs to get done, but this isn’t the most efficient time to do meeting-based work. So if it’s not time-critical, perhaps the meetings could take place after the beginning of the year. I’m just proposing some awareness, not new rules.