A recent FT article spotlighted the unlimited vacation time phenomenon. Wandisco (software company), Evernote (note taking service), LRN (consultancy), Netflix, Red Frog (events company), Inbucon (HR consultancy) all offer some version of unlimited vacation/holiday time.

At Wandisco the results are:

  • Average days taken 16
  • Staff are very committed anyway so why restrict how much time they have off
  • Some staff work evenings and weekends
At Evernote it was noted:
  • Getting a job at Evernote is tough and if being in the office isn’t a punishment then spending days outside the office isn’t a reward
  • It frees up a lot of management time
  • Some employees weren’t taking enough time off so we had to incentivize them with $1000 spending money!
My Execution Thoughts –  if you are considering the idea:
  1. Be crystal clear on the Performance Profile of each job, in terms of achievements, targets, deliverables,
  2. Watch destroying the energy and passion of a department just because some of the work can be done off site and crammed into unusual hours.
  3. You can’t cherry pick which execs get it and those that don’t (Cary Cooper Lancaster University Management School).
  4. Watch business trips and pleasure trips combined into one – travel costs might start to spike.
  5. Watch coverage of essential services being undermined with multiple members of a department out.
  6. Watch Resource Planning Issues – staff taking time off might work for them but are they aware of the bigger picture?
  7. Difficult to execute in a manufacturing environment with different work patterns between production and the back office.
  8. I can see serious disputes over whether work has been completed to allow holiday time to kick in.
  9. Communication between staff would have to improve dramatically compared with the normal level I see in businesses.
  10. I wonder if it just encourages burn-out with the overambitious exec piling in the hours year after year achieving short term goals but no pace setting.
Still I admire the innovation behind the idea but ironically you would need to invest time to monitor it’s execution to determine its effectiveness!