Time away from work can be extremely helpful for maintaining a good work-life balance. Obvious encourages everyone to take time off when needed, and ensure that your colleagues do the same.
A great example of taking time off is an Obvious-er taking a day to do some spring cleaning. Vacations don't have to be trips to exotic places, but instead could be taking some time for oneself at home. We don't frown on people taking time off, but rather encourage people to take care of themselves and others by having some time away. If you notice that your co-worker is working long hours over a sustained period, you may want to let them know about the time off policy.
While working from home, time off might not seem as straightforward, but it is necessary all the same. We encourage teams to take time off and work with clients to plan for leave periods synchronised for the entire team, so that they can use the time to recharge energy.
Types of Time Off
Obvious offers paid menstrual leave for anyone who needs it, no questions asked. More details, and a hat-tip to Nilenso from whom we have stolen this policy, the rationale and the explanation, wholesale.
Any employee who wishes to take time off due to the death of an immediate family member should do so. Paid bereavement leave will be granted up to 15 consecutive days for the death of a loved one/family member including the following: spouse, domestic partner, cohabitant, child, stepchild, grandchild, parent, stepparent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandparent, great grandparent, or sibling.
Communicating Your Time Off
Communicate broadly when you will be away so other people can manage time efficiently, projects don't slip through the cracks, and so that you don't get bothered while away.
- Request your time off in Pause, with your dates, and your reason for being away (if applicable). Your request for time off will be approved by your respective team lead.
- Update your own calendar using Google's "out of office" feature and include the dates you plan to be away in your automated response. Note that this feature will automatically decline any meeting invitations during the time frame you select. Include the contact details of a co-worker in case anything urgent or critical comes into your inbox while you're away.
- Decline any meetings you will not be present for so the organizer can make appropriate arrangements.
- Cancel, move, or find coverage for any meetings for which you are the organizer.
- The more time off you're taking, the more advance notice you should give your team and your Lead. If you're taking a day off, a heads up a day or two in advance is usually sufficient. However, if you're away for more than three days, let someone know the previous week. If you're going away on an extended vacation, at least a few weeks notice is necessary to ensure that we keep our clients informed and ensure that your time off is factored into their deadlines.
- We encourage people to take a week off some time to rest and recharge. Even if there is no travel during COVID-19 times, there is value in taking time off. We try to plan this in such a way that the entire team takes time off, with clients informed, so that there are no external reasons to log back in to work during the time.
Recognising and Dealing with Burnout
It is important for us to take a step back to recognise and acknowledge the feeling of being "burned out". We are not as effective or efficient when we work long hours, miss meals or forego nurturing our personal lives for sustained periods of time. If you feel that you or someone on your team may be experiencing burnout, be sure to address it right away.
We'd recommend taking a burnout test to get the ball rolling:
Take a free burnout test - Stress management with Pause
Are you experiencing symptoms but unsure what's causing them? Check yourself for burnout with a free science-based burnout test from Pause.
To get ahead of a problem, be sure to communicate with your co-workers or Team Lead if any of the following statements ever apply to you:
- "I am losing interest in social interaction."
- "I've lost the motivation to work." - Everyone has days when they don't want to work but if you hear yourself saying this often, you're on the road to burnout.
- "I often feel tired." - Indicative of being overworked for prolonged periods of time.
- "I get agitated easily."
- "I've been hostile to my coworkers." - You see yourself "snap" at people for no apparent reason.
- "I've been having headaches often." - A headache can manifest itself for multiple reasons but if you catch yourself only having headaches on work days, it is time to evaluate your situation.
What to do in the case of potential burnout
If someone is showing signs of burnout, they should take time off to focus on things that are relaxing and improve their overall health and welfare.
As a manager/team lead, it is your task to evaluate your team's state of mind. Address possible burnout by discussing options with your team member to manage contributing stressors and evaluate the workload. Some things to help with this:
- Try to follow each of your team members' work habits. If they start being less efficient, or working more hours, they might be on the road to burnout.
- Try to keep track of when they had their last paid day off. If they hadn't had a personal day in a long time, look closer at their behaviour.
- Make sure you let your team members know they can talk to you about their challenges.
- When you recognise symptoms of burnout in others, help them to get out the "Burnout trap". Don't just tell people to take a break, but help them arrange things so they can take a break. Ask why they feel they can't take a break (there are almost certainly real, concrete reasons) and then ask permission to get busy putting things in place that will overcome those barriers. People might be trapped by their own fatigue, being too worn out to find the creative solutions needed to take a break.
Tips to avoid burnout
- Understand the stages of burnout and habits that can cause burnout so you can make the right decisions.
- Assess and pursue your interests, skills and passions.
- Take breaks during the day to eat healthy food and stretch your legs. The Timeout app can help with that.
- Make time each day to increase blood and oxygen circulation which improves brain activity and functionality.
- Get plenty of restful sleep.
- Meditate to take your mind away from work. Headspace and Calm are good tools for creating meditation habits.
- Don't start work as soon as you wake up. Take your time doing your morning routine.
- Set yourself as away when you are not working (Pause can help with that).
- Snooze your Slack notifications. It is fine to be not reachable during your off time.
Tips to recover from burnout
The Pause team has put together a comprehensive list of strategies to recover from burnout:
How to Recover from Burnout: 11 Strategies to Help You Reset
The ultimate guide that talks all about how to recover from burnout: setting boundaries, identifying harmful habits, and taking time off.
As a team lead
If you discover that multiple people in your team want to be off at the same time, see what the priorities are, review the impact to the business, and use your best judgement. Discuss this with your team so you can manage the time off together. It is also a good idea to remind your team to give everyone an early heads-up, if possible, about upcoming vacation plans.