We work with a number of international customers based outside of the U.S. The month of July proved particularly challenging to coordinate time with many of these customers because these customers take extended holiday absences during July to enjoy their summer away from work.
Since we’re a U.S.-based company and we’re intimately familiar with U.S. vacation and holiday policies, it used to strike me oddly that non-U.S. companies seem to be “on holiday” all the time. How can you get productive work completed if you have so many days out of the office?
I’ve changed my tune from the earlier thinking shaped by expectations spewed out of Big Corporate America. I think we have it wrong in the U.S. regarding vacation and holiday time. Our counterparts around the world spend six to eight weeks or more each year enjoying happy time away from the office with friends and family. We in America are lucky to get two weeks of vacation and we spend a lot of unhappy time at work.
And don’t even talk about leave when a woman has a baby. U.S. companies grant up to three months of unpaid maternity leave but only because it’s required by law. By contrast, for example, we have a British counterpart who had one year of maternity leave when her child was born and now works flex time for three days a week so she can continue to spend time raising her child.
The work culture in the U.S. won’t change overnight but I am a firm believer that time away from the office is absolutely critical to maintaining productivity while in the office. Working for a small company like Web Active Directory has changed my mind and I’m glad we offer flexible schedules for our employees to enjoy the journey of life and be happier employees at the same time.
Americans may work a lot but they’re not very productive during their time at work. Let’s take more holiday time while making our time at work more productive. Work to live, don’t live to work.