Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great idea, though it also looks a bit like an attempt to sell a book – but this is Sir Richard Branson, a very smart and exceedingly canny man, who I believe has pledged to never undertake any task in life if he can’t make any money from it. This may sound mercenary but to my knowledge Sir Richard has never done so at the expense of or by stepping on other people. Which is nice.
Anyway, holidays. To all of us here at WANdisco, this kind of thing is old news. I’m lucky enough to work for a company that adopted the same policy a couple of years ago and I tell you what – it’s liberating, is probably the best word. I realise it may not work for every individual, but to know that you’re trusted to do your job and to know enough about what your colleagues are doing and what projects are on the go and to plan your holidays around that is something special.
Much like Netflix, we’ve found that treating people like grownups works. If you’re forced to report weekly, daily, even hourly in some cases what you’re doing and need to put your hand up to ask if you can use the bathroom do you feel trusted? It’s a weird feeling, having been out of school for several years and then find yourself in an environment that’s not much different. No one wants to feel like just a number, and policies (or lack of!) such as these have a big impact on working life.
A common question when people announce this sort of thing is ‘won’t the office just be empty all the time?’. Here at WANdisco we found that not to be the case, in actual fact last time we crunched the numbers we had to go out and ensure people took their statutory minimum holiday entitlement…. in addition to the 8 bank holidays. All of us appreciate the fact that we’re given the choice to take holiday when we need it, but for the most part we love coming to work.
It may not be the sort of thing that could work at your company, but if you want to engender satisfaction and loyalty in your workforce and if you want them to be proud of the company they work for, it’s certainly worth considering.