Laura Fucci learned that lesson from her 11-year-old daughter, who literally applauded her decision to leave her BlackBerry behind when vacationing at an Arizona ranch last year. "That's when I realized how intrusive it is to the family. At that point, I decided I don't need to do this on vacation," says Fucci, vice president and chief technology officer at MGM Mirage, a hotel and gaming company in Las Vegas.
Fucci acknowledges that she's "totally addicted to the BlackBerry." On past vacations, whether at Disneyland or some dude ranch, she estimates that she spent 20 percent of her time responding to e-mails and phone calls.
That constant connectivity is behind her, though. When Fucci, her husband and their two daughters enjoy some outdoor time in Utah or visit family and the beach in Oregon this month, work will stay at the office. If there's an emergency, a colleague can contact her via her husband's cell phone.
"I want to make sure I give quality time to my kids and my husband. So when they say, 'Mommy, Mommy,' I'm not saying, 'Hold on, I just want to answer this e-mail,'" she says.
John Glaser, who doesn't have a handheld and keeps his cell phone in his car's glove box, has a similar philosophy. The CIO of Boston-based Partners HealthCare System, a nonprofit organization that includes 10 hospitals, takes three weeks of vacation each year. He spent a week skiing in Vermont earlier this year, and he plans to spend a week on Cape Cod with his family this summer and another week later in the year in the Virgin Islands. He says he might do some work-related reading during his vacations, and he generally checks his voice mail every third day. His office can reach him by phone in case of an emergency, but he says he can't remember ever receiving a call from colleagues during a vacation.
Glaser says that for him, it's important to get away completely. "All adults need to define the boundaries in how we work and what intrusions we will allow," he says.
But for Jesus V. Arriaga, using technology on vacation isn't an intrusion; it's a way to keep the pileup of work back in the office under control. The vice president and CIO of Keystone Automotive Industries in California, usually takes two or three weeks off during the year. He, his wife and their two daughters are going to New York this summer. His colleagues will call him if there's an emergency, but he plans to take some time to check e-mail on his BlackBerry while his family gets organized each morning.
"The reason I stay on e-mail is to manage the flow so when I get back, I'm not punished because I took time off," Arriaga says.
Autumn Bayles, CIO at Tasty Baking, says that her Treo and laptop enable her to take -- and enjoy -- vacations. "I like to be connected," she says. "I don't know what I would do without it. And I'm much more likely to take vacation because of it. I have more work/life balance because I carry my Treo; I feel less need to be in the office. And if I want to, I can turn the damn thing off."
But, Bayles quickly admits, she doesn't do that very often.