I don’t live to work; I work to live ~ Noel Gallagher
Whether it’s catching rays on a beach, backpacking across historic sites, or even just reading a book buried under multiple cozy blankets, taking vacation is vital for all types of people who work. In fact, not only is it essential for your own well-being, but you’re actually doing where you work a favour. How? By essentially returning to work with a re-energized mind and a better focused you. Here at oxio, we kept this all in mind and introduced what’s called transparent vacations.
What the heck are transparent vacations?
Quite simply, transparent vacations mean you can see how many days off your co-workers take. While it’s totally normal to read that and get the impression that this is to monitor or spy on your co-workers, the point of transparent vacations is to actually encourage employees to use their vacation time.
As an internet based company that is built upon transparency, we have everything on the table for all employees to ensure no one feels left out. No backroom banter, no conference room chatter, everything we do or change as a company is visible and accessible so there are no surprises. Transparency is something that runs through our veins. In fact, transparent vacations came about as an extension of our already established transparent salaries. This way, employees are not left wondering what their co-workers make or how much time they are taking off.
But you may be wondering…
Why be transparent?
By seeing how much vacation time your colleagues use, you can see and realize that it’s ok to take vacations. Employees should not get stuck feeling like the only way to progress in their role is by working and always being “on that grind”. One step back, two steps forward. Someone may not notice the time off their colleagues take and forget to take their own when stuck with a work focused tunnel vision.
Comparing ourselves to fellow colleagues is inevitable. However, by being transparent about things like pay and vacation time, and being surrounded by associates who openly use their time off, employees can start to feel better about taking time off for themselves. But this only applies to taking vacation. If your colleagues join a cult it is NOT ok. I had a colleague who joined a cult that believed humans would one day evolve into water vapor. I told him “You will be mist”. Get it? Because water is…. Okay back to transparency.
In many cases, comparison with co-workers and making decisions based on what the majority is doing can help individuals look beyond their own private perspectives and make more rational decisions.1 In this case giving themselves a break when needed.
By leaving everything on the table, employees can start to feel more connected. Full transparency, I myself used 19 days of vacation in 2022 and feel a lot better knowing members of my team took around the same or more. Transparency amongst peers creates tangible bonds + trust, and helps to deter any feelings of FOMO. This is just one step forward in eliminating old workplace biases where we had to keep everything discreet or hidden from one another. But if you’re into something like listening to 19th century villain playlists while you work like me… let’s maybe keep that to ourselves.
Take vacation or impress my boss?
As mentioned earlier in this article, you actually do your company and team a favour by using your vacation time. Yes, taking vacation is good. But why? Why is having time away from your work sometimes the best thing for your work? And how does it benefit you the most?
Have you ever felt stuck on something at work or caught yourself mindlessly staring at your screen? Getting away from work entirely may be just what you need to achieve that sought after breakthrough. Neuroscience studies have actually shown that being on vacation puts your mind in a relaxed state similar to taking a shower or going on a walk, where you’re more likely to have that “aha” moment.2 Having that moment can be so valuable for the work that you do and be well worth the time away.
In a creative position such as writing, these moments are key to overcoming obstacles such as writer's block…okay going for a walk brb. In fact, drawing on inspiration from vacation, and immersing yourself in a vacation, is also shown to improve creativity.3 You may find the answer you were looking for after exploring some ancient civilization’s ruins.. or getting to the bottom of that Doritos bag. Either way we’re not judging. Coming back to work with fresh ideas and a juiced-up creative mindset means you’ll be able to perform better and output a renewed high quality level of work!
This one is a bit more obvious, but nonetheless so so so important.
Stress. The poison of productivity. The destroyer of focus. The summoner of anxiety. The…okay these are just starting to sound like WWE ring names. But you get the point. Stress sucks.
Giving yourself a real break from work can help avoid burnout and the dreaded onset of stress. Now, don’t get this wrong. A bit of stress is always going to come with any job, and can even be beneficial. But too much and we can reach our breaking point. The American Psychological Association puts it best with this analogy: “Stress is to the human condition what tension is to the violin string: too little and the music is dull and raspy; too much and the music is shrill or the string snaps.”4 When our life revolves around work, and the stress load becomes too heavy, we start to experience some of the following:
- Feeling rundown
- Experiencing fatigue
- Trouble concentrating...SQUIRREL
Even the most simple or mundane tasks can start to feel like a challenge.5 Getting away from it all and putting your mind at ease can ensure you return to work refreshed and sometimes even eager to start tackling tasks. As stress is a physiological response, not only will your mindset thank you for taking a vacation but your body will too!6
Do yourself a favour.
Take your vacation.
No seriously. Stop reading this article for a moment and book it. In the infamous words of Shia LaBeouf, “JUST DO IT”.
Take advantage of the paid time off given to you by your employers. You’ll feel better for using it, and you’ll return to your work performing at a higher level. At oxio, we believe in having transparent vacations to encourage each other to actually use our vacation time. But even if your workplace does not have a transparent vacation model, you should never feel bad for using your paid time off. You deserve it.
And, we’d love to hear about it! For reals though, feel free to drop us a line and tell us all about your next vacation adventure - firstname.lastname@example.org. We just might see you there!
A shout out to Audrey for the idea to write this article! Thank you to Yeona and Danilo for the always appreciated feedback. Danilo again for doing the French adaptation. And a thank you to Savannah in the future for sharing on our socials!