Holodeck noun a chamber or facility in which a user can experience a holographic or computer-simulated physical environment, popularized by the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction

As a lifelong Star Trek fan, I often wonder about what life would be like with access to a holodeck. The ability to ski one minute and then sit poolside under the sun the next sounds like it would make unplugging from work pretty easy. Yet when watching Star Trek, it seems like holodecks are widely unused and vacations are avoided. For instance, in the Star Trek Voyager, Tuvok refuses Captain Janeway’s offer of two days leave to meditate and clear his mind. Or in the 1998 movie, Insurrection, Captain Picard shares that he has over 300 days of accumulated leave.

I suppose 300 days of accumulated leave isn’t as bad as the 765 million unused vacation days U.S. workers admitted to banking, according to Forbes Advisors. Many of us long for vacations or downtime to “catch our breath” but struggle to push pause and unplug from the daily grind. Simply put, we (me included) fall into that dreaded all-work-and-no-play category. Vacations are, as we know, good for our physical and mental well-being and work performance. So, what can we, as leaders, do to encourage our team and ourselves to take the vacation (for real!). For that, I’ll have to rely on some of my favorite people from Star Trek for advice:

“I’m not a merry man.”     -Lieutenant Worf

Getting a little cranky or irritable? Time to start planning or actively saving up for your next vacation. Studies show that just planning a vacation can turn you into a merrier person as the action of planning the vacation releases dopamine (the happy hormone). For your team members, regularly ask about upcoming vacation plans and share your plans as well during check-ins.

“There is strength in unity.”     -Lieutenant Uhura

At ConvergenceCoaching, we shut down the entire firm over the winter holidays every year. No one –Partners, Consultants, Admin/Ops – logs in to work during that time. When we return, we are refreshed and energized. We are fully committed to our holiday closure and encourage every firm to implement something similar. In our 2022 Anytime, Anywhere Work Survey Results we were encouraged when we saw a jump in the number of firms who close offices for a week as compared to our 2020 survey. Over the winter holidays isn’t always the best time for every firm, so we encourage you to pick a week that works for to shut down your technology and allow your people rest, like the week of July 4th or Thanksgiving.

“I suggest you carry a combadge with you at all times."    -Chief of Security Odo

More than half of people work while they are on vacation. It is time to change this trend. Absolutely, do not take your work cell phone or computer with you on vacation. Delete you’re your email, Teams/Slack, or any other work apps from your phone before you go on vacation. I know it is tempting to just check-in on something really quick, but we must resist. Set the example and encourage your team members to do the same.

“Live now; make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.”     -Captain Picard

Want to golf, take a run, attend hot yoga, or go fencing in the holodeck but it is the middle of the day? Well, great news! Studies suggest that breaks during our workday improve your attention and productivity. So go ahead and book the holodeck for your next activity but please put it on your calendar so your team knows to leave you be and feels empowered to follow suit, too!

“Like you always say, if something’s important, you make the time.”    -Lieutenant Commander/Chief Engineer Scotty

Be sure you are demonstrating the importance of resting, relaxing, and taking a real vacation by scheduling and taking the vacation. It is important to you and your team’s happiness and well-being to take a vacation or to use the holodeck.

As I wrap up my work for a long weekend away with my spouse and take my own advice about checking into the holodeck, I encourage you to pause, open your calendar, identify your next time away from work and “make it so.”