A sign of maturity, or insanity?

magic of the holidays 9: the river of light
Image by jmtimages via Flickr

Thanks to Stacking Pennies, I recently found out that at Netflix, workers get to take as many holidays as they want.

“Employees … were responding to emails on weekends, they were solving problems online at home at night. And every so often, they would take off an afternoon to ferry a child to the paediatrician or to check in on an ageing parent.

“Since Netflix wasn’t tracking how many hours people were logging each work day, these employees wondered, why should it track how many holidays people were taking each work year? “

In my industry – and many others I’m sure – the line between work and non-work is blurring. Thanks, technology.

At this stage, I don’t really mind it. If I want to go above and beyond on my own time, then I will. I’ll do it for the benefit of the company that employs me, because I want us to be the best at what we do. Perhaps if I was regularly expected to, this might start to chafe. But for now, that’s not the case.

By law, we are entitled to four weeks (which is more than fair – add in public holidays and it’s quite a lot of time off IMO). Also, business for us doesn’t stop on public holidays – there’s always someone rostered on, so there’s the opportunity to earn extra days in lieu. And barring last year, when the company decided that holding so much accrued leave was uneconomical in a recession and forced us all (even me, a very part-time worker/student at the time) to take time off, any way we want to schedule leave is generally fine.

When I first started working, I thought four weeks off every year sounded like an eternity. Bear in mind that yes, we got summers off and at least three other breaks with a minimum of two weeks during the year during uni. But I had to work all of those periods. Bills don’t stop. Rent doesn’t stop. I didn’t have the luxury of taking off on trips. the last time I had any extended period of time off was the summer between high school and uni when I worked only a couple of days a week and spent the rest broke and bored out of my mind.

I’ve been working full time since November, and I still haven’t taken any real leave. I had a long weekend in February, and I’ve worked every single weekend since then on my new schedule. I’m planning to take the weekend before T’s birthday in September off, and a couple of weeks around Christmas. I don’t care if we don’t go anywhere amazing – I just need a breather.

So while I love the idea of such a flexible environment ala Netflix, I just don’t know if it would work in my office. It’s already difficult enough to manage a seven-day roster (and coverage for 14plus hours a day) with people taking their annual allotment of leave throughout the year. Can you imagine the carnage that would ensue in a free-for-all?

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