College Days ? The good life!
My college days were among the BEST times I?ve ever had, and a big reason for that is that no one could really tell me what to do.? For me, it was complete and absolute freedom.? Freedom from parents and zero responsibilities.? If I didn?t want to go to class because it was a nice day, I would just blow it off and catch up with a buddy later about what was covered in the class I missed.? If I hung out at the bar too long the night before and couldn?t make it to class, no big deal. ?And if I wanted to sit in on a lecture at a different college, I did that.? I didn?t have to ask anyone for permission, and I didn?t have anyone telling me what to do, period. As long as I learned something; was actively participating in academic events; and was performing well on grades, homework, and such, I earned my keep and could continue enjoying the good life known as college.
First Job ? Man, this sucks, but at least I can buy beer now.
Now flash forward to my first job, and bam!? There were RULES.? Someone was telling me what to do.? I had to fill out timesheets explaining what I did with myself each day that wouldn’t make me look bad.? I had to ask for time off for pretty much anything that occurred from 9 to 5 on weekdays.
If I wanted to get my teeth checked, I had to ask my boss.? If I wanted to take advantage of a free stay at a friend?s beach house that is only available on a Thursday, I had to ask my boss.? If I wanted to leave early so that I could be first in line at the U2 concert, I had to ask my boss.? I asked myself, isn?t this what I did when I lived with my mom? Ask for permission to go out or stay late?
So?the first years of our lives we take orders from our parents; in our late teen years and early 20s, we can do whatever we want; and then we go back to taking orders from strangers, not to mention marriage – how the towels have to be folded, how the toilet paper has to hang, how the bed has to be made…
Unlimited PTO ? A ?radical? idea that really isn?t. ?
Many companies now have realized that if they treat their employees like adults, they will, strangely, act like adults.? Let them take the time off they need whenever they want, without any ceiling on the amount of time, and they, in return, will be happier and possibly perform better at what they need to do at work.
The rationalization of this idea was basically that life happens.? Life is messy. Kids get sick.? Carpools don?t always work out.? Babysitters quit.? Obscure relatives come to visit.? Opportunities come up every now and then that conflict with work schedules. But if someone is doing their job competently, on time, and on budget, why should they have to show up for mere facetime?? How productive is that?? Now you have someone in the office that doesn?t want to be there.? Do you think that that person is going to have a productive day? You know what people do when this happens?they surf the Internet, look for something on Amazon, update their Facebook status, watch a few YouTube videos. Oh wait, if you work at one of those repressive environments that watch utilization rates like a hawk, all of that stuff is blocked?just like mom used to hide your favorite toys when she wanted you to clean up your room.? Are we kids again?
Our attempt at this idea.
Our experiment with a new policy of essentially having no policy for paid time off started a little over a year ago, after my gorgeous, funny, and downright amazing wife straight from the heavens (she better be reading this) saw an article about Netflix and their policy of not capping PTO.? After reading about this, I decided that we should give this a try?essentially not capping the hours someone at our firm could take off for personal reasons, vacation, in celebration of an obscure holiday, to enjoy the nice weather?it doesn?t matter the reason.? No cap, no questions asked.? After our controller finally acquiesced with me (a lot of prodding there), we implemented this concept at Terraine.
Does it work?
So you are asking yourself, well?does it work? Yes, it does work.? Adults generally behave like adults, if treated that way. In only one instance was there concern about the amount of time being taken off.? Some folks thought it was unfair, but I was never worried about it.? Turns out this particular individual had some personal issues going on that no one knew about, which could happen to anyone.
What ends up occurring, at least in our case, is that the system seems to be self-policing, meaning that peers will hold others accountable in their work.? And the benefits?? I don?t really care if someone wants to take time off for some holiday I never heard of, or if they want to go visit a relative in Jackson Hole, WY, or if they want to go to the library and read in isolation on a Monday.? In fact, I don?t even want to know about it.? To me, all that matters at work that is work-related are the results, not the process.? If one of our folks comes up with a really creative and genius way of doing something, why should it matter if they come up with those ideas at 2am from home while drinking a beer and listening to Mogwai?? It shouldn?t matter, and that?s the whole point of an unlimited PTO policy.? Life gets in the way, and we are all adults.? Treat your folks like adults, and they will appreciate it and might even perform their best work.