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Opinion: Avoid 'workation' trends this summer

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At midsummer, most of our vacation plans are now behind us or just around the corner. I hope that readers are avoiding a reported trend of “workation” – the practice of taking work on the road to a vacation paradise.

A staggering three quarters of professionals expect to stay connected to the office while on vacation this year, according to research by global workplace solutions firm Regus.

In a poll of more than 5,000 U.S.-based professionals, Regus also found:
  • 50 percent of Americans admit they will work during their vacation this summer;
  • 66 percent will be checking and responding to e-mail during their time off; and
  • 29 percent expect they may have to attend meetings virtually while on vacation.
Beyond vacation time, work-life balances are eroding, with 58 percent of Regus’ respondents saying they take work home more than three times a week.

I’m guilty of that this week.

But I’m happy to say I carved out time for a day trip vacation to Big Cedar Lodge and Dogwood Canyon Nature Park – completely disconnected from the office – and my wife and I have a short wedding anniversary trip around the corner with the same intention.

The Dogwood Canyon visit was my choice for my birthday celebration, and I’d highly recommend it for those even a bit drawn to the outdoors. The roughly six mile one-way paved walking trail reaches into Arkansas from Lampe and is decorated with waterfalls, trout-stocked ponds, a wilderness chapel and a covered wooden bridge. There also are log cabins for overnight stays.

We chose to walk the trail, rather than the bike, tram, horseback or Segway options, and our three young children were surprisingly up to the task.

“This is better than Wii!” our 5-year-old son screamed, zooming by us on his Razor scooter.
That alone made it worthwhile. Here’s to getting out of the office and enjoying the Ozarks’ nature.

Remembering Copeland and Ethics Matters
This month would mark the six-year anniversary of John D. Copeland’s monthly Ethics Matters column published in SBJ. Unfortunately, Copeland died in April at the age of 61, and SBJ is missing his hard-nosed voice on the subject of ethics in business. His last column in SBJ, titled “Mortgage banks illegally burden U.S. combat forces,” was published March 28.

We send our condolences to his family and remember the honorable Copeland. My predecessor, Clarissa French, brought Copeland’s insights into the pages of SBJ, on a referral from Ron Bottin, former dean of Missouri State University’s College of Business Administration.

Copeland’s first column in SBJ, “Should you ‘whistle while you work’?” tackles the precarious position of acting as a whistleblower in the office and balancing loyalty and morality. He concluded, “Loyalty to an employer is important, but loyalty ceases to be a virtue when it is used to excuse or conceal unethical or illegal business practices.” He went on to offer a four-step process to help an employee determine if they’ve witnessed wrongdoing worthy of blowing the whistle, and encouraged readers with a Thomas Aquinas quote from his book, “The City of God.” Aquinas states, “The silence of good men makes them complicit in wrongdoing.”

The column is as applicable today as it was then. His Ethics Matters columns went on to cut through the ethical mishandlings by corporate and government entities and officials, as well as addressed office politics, faith and management issues.

Writing with a sharp tongue based on facts, Copeland wasn’t afraid to call anyone on the ethics carpet. Copeland’s writings shed light on ethical issues for Google (China firewall), Toyota (faulty brakes), Disney (board full of “yes” men), BP (oil spill debacle), President Obama (czar selections) and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (CEO deficiencies).

A native of Siloam Springs, Ark., Copeland had a remarkable career in law and education. He most recently served as a business professor at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, and before that worked as Tyson Foods Inc.’s executive vice president for ethics. He had directed the National Center for Agricultural Law Research and Information and was a research professor of law at the University of Arkansas, following years of private law practice in Texas and Arkansas. At the end of his career, he was an executive in residence at John Brown’s Soderquist Center for Leadership and Ethics and a Kallman executive fellow at the Center for Business Ethics at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass.

He’s reminded us all that ethics really do matter in business.

Springfield Business Journal Editor Eric Olson can be reached at eolson@sbj.net.
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