Last week was my kids’ spring break from school. We’d originally planned a road trip to New Orleans but for obvious reasons those plans fell through. I canceled my week of time off – there was no point in using those days to sit around inside, I figured.
Since this pandemic has been going on our business has continued to hum along, for which I’m grateful. Luckily for us, our company is entirely remote so there’ve been no hiccups acclimating to the “new normal” that many companies are experiencing. Luckily for us, we’re hiring and onboarding and designing and building. Luckily for us, we see an even brighter future in digitized workplace operations. This gets me to the point I’ve made so often before, but with a twist.
Time away from work is more important than ever, even if we can’t hop in the car or plane to disappear for a few days. We’ve been vocal with our team and customers over the years that employees don’t need to go on vacation – but a few days per quarter are necessary to refresh. Read, cook, or stare at a wall; do anything but work. I didn’t take my own advice.
The ‘normal’ amount of stress at work which most of us experience is now being compounded by an incredibly abnormal amount of uncertainty about the future. There are massive numbers of people filing for unemployment, so we should dig even deeper to ensure we don’t find ourselves in those lines too right? I don’t think that’s the right mental approach nor the right message to send to employees. Now’s the time to reinforce the sound practice of time off that keeps us all sane.
Now’s the time to reinforce the sound practice of time off that keeps us all sane.
JD Graffam, owner of Memphis-based Simple Focus, mentioned a similar level of apprehension within his own team. It’s taken some reassurance (cashflow forecasts with Pulse, revenue projections, leadership) to get his team members feeling comfortable taking time away from work. Andrew Millen, a UI Designer at SimpleFocus, was the first employee to inquire about it and, ultimately, book a few days off. “None of us are used to working at home, and I feel like with all these changes it’s important to know what’s changing or not with policies like time off,” Andrew mentioned.
I ended up putting a few days off back on the calendar – not the whole week, but enough time to get some distance from work. I smoked barbecue for friends (unfortunately we couldn’t enjoy it together) and watched some movies with my kids. I didn’t return to work completely reenergized, but the time off served as a punctuation mark of sorts for this seemingly never-ending rambling sentence of an extraordinary period in time. See what I did there? It also was a strong reminder to remind my own team that time off, pandemic or not, is a business critical practice to ensure our workplace continues to shine.