How We Handle Time Off

In a year, you get 10 days off. You accrue more days at a specific hour to hour ratio, and they will roll over at 50% for a maxmimum of one year. You’re allowed to get sick 7 times in a year. Sick days do not roll over. Other than that, you have to be in the office 8 hours a day, starting at 9 am. Welcome to Kindergarten.

When we get to college, we are charged with the responsibility to direct our own lives. No one will be calling if you don’t go to class. If you’re ill one day, no one questions it; you just have to find out what the missed work was and get it done on time. No big deal, you’re adults now.

Then, you graduate, enter what they call “the real world” with “a real job” and you’re told exactly where to be and when. Exactly what days you will have off. How often you’re allowed to get sick, and you better have a doctor’s note. How the game of accruing “paid time off” works; the only thing more complex than accruing rollover minutes on your cell plan.

This baffles me. That’s not the real world. You’ve graduated into a world where adults are treated like children, apparently expected to be less responsible than college students, exemplified by the red tape that adheres workers to their desks.

At Mindsense, we believe that if people have motivating work that fulfills them, a relaxing and fun office to go to, and a supportive team, then they will do what they need to do, without rules for when they must be present at their desks. We understand that some people are more productive in the morning, and some people are more productive later in the day. We’ve seen that when people are given a greater level of autonomy, their motivation increases, but also their work is no longer tied to counting hours at a desk to “earn” the time to spend with their families later; rather their work becomes more directly tied to the greater mission of the organization. We also place a lot of importance in making sure people have the freedom to be with their families when they can be.

Team members get zero vacation days. Zero sick days. Zero holidays. You don’t accrue time off. Instead of focusing on when and how much someone is in the office, we focus on what needs to be done, and what is accomplished. At the beginning of the week, team members decide what they will get done, and at the end of the week, they share their finished products with the team. Team members can be in the office when they know they are most productive, and no one is counting their hours to make sure they’ve earned time off for their family vacation in the summer.

I’ve actually started to enforce a “minimum vacation days” policy. One of our hardest working folks hadn’t taken enough time off by the end of the year, so I asked him if he would take off the second half of December. He agreed, and was able to travel and visit a ton of family members and friends (I think he traveled to 5 different cities in that time). He came back fully refreshed and ready to tackle 2016.

We feel this is how all working professionals should be treated. Unfortunately, it’s not the case in many organizations. But we hope we can help pave the way to empower professionals with freedom and autonomy, while taking care of our responsibilities of providing meaningful work that has a significant impact, and a fulfilling, relaxing, and supportive place to come each day to work and collaborate.


Modified from a version originally published at mindsense.co.