The Ten Commandments to surviving your annual family holiday
THE Scandinavians are at it again.
A recent report in the New York Times highlighted how companies in Gothenburg have introduced a six-hour working day, with no reduction in pay for staff. The long-time envy of the rest of the working world, the Swedes and their Norwegian, Danish and Finnish counterparts, have been coming up with fantastic work conditions for staff for decades, from being able to call in sick if you aren't feeling up for work, to their 16-month share paternity leave on up to 80 per cent pay.
The Swedes have been leading the way as they seek a better work/life balance. The experiment at Svartedalens nursing home over a one-year period proved to be a remarkable success and an audit published in mid-April concluded that the program in its first year had sharply reduced absenteeism, and improved productivity and worker health.
It concluded that staff were more motivated and loyal and did not waste time at their jobs, sending unnecessary emails etc. There was less sick leave and workers were ultimately happier. A Toyota company in the city also adopted a 30-hour week, achieving similar results.
The continental attitude to work has always intrigued me. From the Spanish siesta to the short 35-hour working week in France, it is always worthwhile seeing what our neighbours are doing.
Irish legislation coming into effect in the coming months will allow fathers to take two weeks' leave at any stage within 26 weeks. It's not Scandinavian, but it's a start.
On the flipside companies complain it has reduced competitiveness and created billions in additional costs for hiring and social charges. The politicians behind the Gothenburg project have been accused of promulgating a utopian folly. The idea is radical afterall, but so was having women vote at one point in world history.
Shakespeare once wrote: 'If all the year were playing holidays; To sport would be as tedious as to work,' but there could be merit in what the Volvo drivers are doing.
Having returned from 'playing holidays' I wish to impart some advice for you lucky holidaymakers:
1: Spend, spend, spend: All year you're thinking about your bank balance and whether or not you can afford that steak. Why go on holidays having saved all year to stay, in a place that you don't want to come back to.
2. Pig out: Why go to a generic chipper abroad when there is a whole culture to explore. Try the local dishes. I had a deep fried Twinkie bar on my holidays. Won't be trying that again but it was an experience!
3. Learn to relax: If you're like me you'll want to get out early and see as much as you can. Feel free to fight that temptation and relax if you're wrecked from travelling.
4. Bring runners.
5. Bring a fresh smell: A new shower gel as it helps with the holiday vibe.
6. Ask locals for directions/assistance. They won't bite your head off!
7. Take time for yourself. One of the highlights of my holiday was a 7 a.m. walk into a mountain town from the motel, taking in the sights, sounds and smells before the gang woke up.
8. Challenge yourself: take on that giant water slide, or drive on the other side of the road.
9. Enjoy the hilarious brain dead, exhausted moments.
10. Allow for jet lag if travelling great distances. It took us a messy week to recover.