For some location independent pros, working remotely may already feel like a vacation. Well, this may be the case in the early days. Once they’ve settled into a groove and have figured out a routine, the “at home or anywhere” novelty does take on a different context. You’re more comfortable as you get things done, but you’re definitely still working.
Those who lead remote companies truly get that the concept of “vacation time” in a distributed context requires more than mere consideration; in fact, many have put a lot of thought into making elaborate and sometimes unconventional official remote vacation policies. Avoiding unhealthy workaholism has a number of benefits. It enables teams to find a satisfying work/life balance while keeping the business’ engines humming. And time spent outside of the home office isn’t just important for winding down; it’s a means for companies to align procedures with their core values, and to demonstrate their appreciation for employees in a way that builds morale.
Here are three examples of what some remote companies are doing with their remote vacation policy, including a few pros and cons for each approach:
1. Unlimited vacation time.
Ooto message set up? Packing all finished? Envisioning small umbrella in drink? Check, check, check. What could be better, you wonder, than having as much vacation time in the year as you could possibly want? It’s highly flexible and could accommodate all kinds of bucket list desires, personal situations, and different faiths or countries of residence (which often have an array of federal and religious holidays).
Perhaps counterintuitively, however, this ambiguous, open-ended option has led some people to feel guilty or unsure about the “right” amount of days to take off work. Early research shows one major drawback is that employees who aren’t given a “floor” or minimum of vacation days are actually inclined to take fewer days than others. Here’s hoping that companies with no-holds-barred vacation time find a way to make taking advantage of this perk more comfortable for everyone!
2. Generous use-as-you-choose days.
This could otherwise be known as the middle-of-the-road option. In lieu of giving employees total freedom to choose their ideal vacation allotment, this policy offers a significant and specific number of available days. From a psychological perspective, it gives teammates a threshold to work within, which helps eliminate the sense that one might somehow inadvertently ask for too much.
While the average American firms offer new recruits and seasoned pros anywhere from one to four weeks (five to 20 business days), some remote companies are experimenting with higher numbers. Offering six to eight weeks vacation is becoming more common—especially in fast-paced, distributed startups—while others are rewarding employees’ loyalty and longevity with lengthy two or three month sabbaticals after several years of service. How does fully disengaging from work with complete permission from your superiors sound to you?
3. Traditional designated PTO.
In most brick-and-mortar firms, sick time, mental health days, and vacation often get amalgamated into a single chunk of leave. Paid time off, or PTO, is often prescriptive with a set limit (typically around two weeks, or 15 business days), which can be parsed out however employees would like. The total PTO offered can vary depending upon an employee’s seniority with the company, as well as the overall company size.
The challenge here is that many professionals may feel torn by the limited number of days intended to accommodate all of their needs. It might mean the difference between taking a day off when feeling ill or for an important doctor’s appointment versus sacrificing one’s health in order to conserve days for a long-awaited trip. As a result, having choice when the PTO “ceiling” is lower can feel as if it’s really no choice at all.
If you’re in charge of establishing a time off policy for your organization, consider reflecting upon the above options or expanding upon them to find one that best fits the needs of your team.
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