By Ryan Healy – Vacation days are a benefit. We are allowed 10 or 15 days of vacation per year so we can completely relax and forget about work. I have full intentions of forgetting about my job for the six days I am in California. I might check my e-mail once or twice, and I am available by cell phone, but unless there is an extreme emergency I have no plans of working. Vacation is great, I’m relaxed, I’m enjoying my family, and I don’t have to deal with that pesky thing called work.
However, right now I am sitting in an ice cream shop in Napa Valley, California. I am using six of my precious vacation days. And what do you know? I am writing a column. I do not separate writing, networking or designing my website from working. I am doing all of this for my career, and therefore it is all considered work. However, since landing in Oakland four days ago, I have spent at least one to two hours a day doing some type of work. In fact, my partner Ryan Paugh and I actually launched the brand new version of Employee Evolution. The funny thing is, I am completely, 100% relaxed and I wouldn’t want my vacation to be any other way.
My brother, Dan, runs SloopyMenus.com, an online food ordering business at Ohio State University. As I write this, he is sitting directly across from me on his laptop emailing restaurant and bar owners, setting up meetings to talk about advertising and tracking his website statistics for use in his sales pitches. He has already taken three or four business calls and has spoken with his partner once a day. He also wouldn’t have it any other way.
Does this mean that we are not actually on vacation? Or does this mean that his business and my website aren’t actually work?
The way I look at it, they are both definitely considered work, and we are both definitely on vacation. Spending an hour or two per day doing a little work on vacation is just fine in my book. I completely understand why people want to escape their jobs and not even worry about it on vacation. However, if you need to run and hide for a week at a time, it can only mean one of two things. You either dislike your job or you work way too hard.
The problem with having an arbitrary ten or fifteen days of vacation where you can escape from your cubicle is that it implies we need to completely escape to stay sane. I don’t know about you guys, but if I need to pretend that work doesn’t exist when I am on vacation, then I am in the wrong line of work.
The Motley Fool has created a solution to this whole problem. Employees at “the fool” do not have any vacation days, but they certainly take vacations like the rest of us. There should be no such thing as vacation days. By telling employees they are allowed fifteen days off from work a year, you are in effect telling them that they will need to escape the daily grind. With new technologies and telecommuting being more and more common, “vacation days” will ultimately be a thing of the past. But I can guarantee you; I will still take plenty of vacations
Obviously, companies like the Motley Fool must put an extraordinary amount of trust in their employees, but we are all adults. How many grown people do you know who would completely blow off a deliverable because they want to go on vacation and ignore work for a few days? If employees feel trusted, they will trust the company which will in turn increase worker morale and output. It’s a win-win situation.
Ryan Healy’s blog is Employee Evolution.