Well, vacation embargoes are a good thing…
When was the last time you went on vacation and truly didn’t work? Seriously disconnecting, no work email, no work hangouts, no work calls, no work texts, no work slackchat… (get the point?). Was it before you had a job? Was it on your honeymoon? Getting married seems to be an acceptable reason for companies to let most employees be away from work. But Disney World? The beach? Europe? Not so much. Since I’ve graduated, I have gone on vacations, but I never fully got away.
At Bandwidth, I was told they had a strict vacation embargo policy. When I first heard about it, it sounded like just hype. But I was guaranteed that it was real. And it is. What vacation embargo means is that when you go on vacation — whether it’s the big trip you planned all year, or the one time you decide to take the day off, you are really OFF. You aren’t expected to work. Nada. Zip. Zilch. And you don’t take this lightly. You’ll get called out even if you’re logged onto your chat. I’ve even heard rumors of certain employees having their email login disabled because they couldn’t follow the policy. And furthermore, your coworkers are told to handle things while you are out and not to email you (not even cc you) until you are back.
“We want folks to return from time off feeling refreshed and ready to do amazing things, not feeling guilty for what they didn’t accomplish during the week they were supposed to be ‘off’ or feeling bad about letting their friends or family members down by ignoring them all week.” — David Morken
Last year, Bandwidth’s CEO David Morken was interviewed by Quartz for an article on the vacation embargo policy. He said, “We want folks to return from time off feeling refreshed and ready to do amazing things, not feeling guilty for what they didn’t accomplish during the week they were supposed to be ‘off’ or feeling bad about letting their friends or family members down by ignoring them all week.”
Here is what I did NOT do on my vacation:
I did NOT bring my computer.
In fact, I was able to breeze through security in record time. You’d be amazed how quickly those pesky security lines go when nothing needs to be ripped out of bag in a fit of freedom fury.
I did NOT respond to email.
I didn’t even get the chance, because when I looked (you caught me, I broke that rule) I didn’t have any. Unsettling for the first few days, but I got used it.
I did NOT check github issues or pull requests.
Seriously, I was under the impression that the entire service relied on my delightful feedback on pull requests (:thumbsup:). I was a bit surprised and a bit defeated that each and every build still maintained 100% code coverage and the service never went down.
I did NOT step away from the bar to join a conference call.
I couldn’t imagine a worse scenario than to be enjoying a pint at a bar in Belgium and have to step away to hear status reports. I didn’t even have the tools and phone to even make it happen if I wanted to.
So, what did I do on my vacation?
I took way too many photos.
I got lost on a bike in Copenhagen.
I went to a music festival in Berlin.
I discovered that Belgian beers have a higher ABV than I’m used to.
I made new friends from all over the world.
And most importantly, I had a vacation.