Is Your Company Geek-Compatible – Vacations (part 4 of 5)

This is the fourth post of the “Is Your Company Geek-Compatible” series and it is about vacations.

It’s summer and it’s the time of the year when most of us are thinking about taking that well deserved vacation… If you are like me, you’ll probably start by researching flights online, looking for hotels or vacation rentals, reading reviews, etc… However, if you are working at a company you also have to take care of one more thing, requesting time-off and get an “approval” from your company to take that vacation. Yes, most companies still operate this way, employees get a fixed amount of vacation per year and in order to take that vacation it has to be approved by a manager.

Taking time off is beneficial for both the employee and the employer, it has the benefit of giving the employee an opportunity to get away from work, from the routine and have a chance to re-charge and enjoy some time-off from work to do something that she or he enjoys.

There are some companies such as Netflix and The Knot, BazaarVoice and others that offer an “open-ended” or “unlimited” vacation policy, which means that there is no policy at all. Employees are allowed to take as much time as they need to and they can take it at any time as long as they use common sense when making this decision. Basically, companies offering this to its employees are trusting and encouraging people to make these type of decision on their own.

This “open vacation” policy is very popular with technology companies and companies where the majority of the employees work remotely. It makes sense, people who work in technology positions such as software engineers, software testers, UI designers, etc can do their work from anywhere as long as they have an internet connection and their primary tool, a computer. So by having access to their work at all times, many of these people will do get work done even when in vacation, because that is what they like to do, and having access to unlimited vacation gives them the opportunity to schedule their work around other personal activities, it allows people to create their own schedules and be able to work when they are more productive, instead of limiting people to a set number of hours during the day.

In the end, it is all about trust. When you trust people you get better results from them. Yes, there are the some people who when given a chance, they fool around and don’t do their work. However, these are the type of people who in a system like this are very easy to spot so you can do something about them.

Personally, when given a chance to schedule my work and vacation without limitations, my productivity does up, this is because I set times during the day that are better for me to do my work such as late at night, very early in the morning, etc… sitting in a chair from 9-5PM just because that is the “what everyone else does” doesn’t make sense to me.

What are your thoughts on this? do you enjoy of this type of vacation policy at your company? do you disagree? please use the comments section below to join the conversation.

Previous: Is Your Company Geek-Compatible – Meetings (part 3 of 5)

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4 thoughts on “Is Your Company Geek-Compatible – Vacations (part 4 of 5)

  1. Pingback: Is Your Company Geek-Compatible – Meetings (part 3 of 5) | OnTechies

  2. It’s an interesting concept, and I think it probably works in companies where this policy is carefully integrated into an overall framework of hiring, work ethic, team commitment, etc. Tech companies, and software in particular, are the ultimate team sport. Self-directed vacation and work hours are effective when the individual places the team’s needs before his/her own. If you pair those policies with practices in hiring, management and rewards to ensure individuals prioritize team commitments first, then you’ll have teams that meet their goals and are happy over the long run.

  3. The last company I worked for had this policy for years, unfortunately, they changed to the older, more familiar standard of number of weeks per year based on tenure. The reason? With access to unlimited vacation, most of the people NEVER opted to take vacation, feeling like they could either always take it later or didn’t want to take advantage of the policy. Yes, you read that right, not only did people not take advantage of the policy by taking more time off than “deserved”, they simply did not take time off.

  4. What are your thoughts on this?

    I think the idea is a good one. In fact I think that anything that allows employees flexibility and reduces distraction improves productivity.

    Do you enjoy of this type of vacation policy at your company? No, I work for the phone company and the vacation policy is more traditional. In fact, you literally loss vacation if you don’t use it before the year ends.

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