• Culture

The Value of Downtime: Why We’re Ditching Our Desks for a Week

Radish Lab is closed next week. It’s the un-official last week of summer, and before we ramp up for what looks to be an exciting and busy fall, we decided it was time for us all to take a break and recharge our batteries. We’ve let our clients know we’ll be unavailable and we’ve planned this week into project timelines. We’ve even set this blog to publish automatically after we’ve abandoned the office.

We don’t have a vacation policy at Radish Lab. Or rather, we do, but it’s a make-your-own-vacation policy, which roughly decrees that you’re welcome to take time off when you need, and work a relatively flexible schedule, as long as you can get your work done. Lots of companies have this policy, and lots of of people have written about the perks, the downsides, for companies big and small. Perhaps the most counter-intuitive trend is that when companies offer employees the chance to take as much holiday time as they want, employees take off less time than they do when they’ve got a set number of vacation days. This is true for us too: people at Radish Lab take very few days off. We like to think it’s because our office is such a nice place to be, and we like hanging out together. But we wanted to give our team a chance to feel less guilty about taking time for themselves––once during the summer, and once at the end of the year, when we close for two weeks over the holidays.

Our unlimited vacation policy might change in the next few years as we grow, but in the meantime, here are three reasons we’ve turned off our computers this week:

  1. Creative work needs creative space. Often, the best ideas and creative energy come not from surfing the internet, but from unplugging. This is hard to do when you’re tethered to the internet for your job. Frankly, we believe that giving our eyes a break from the screen and our brains a break from our job actually helps us in the long run.
  2. Everyone needs a break. When you start a business, it’s not always entirely clear that you’re signing up for a work-life blend that can get pretty monotonous. My phone is always pinging with emails and there’s always fires that need putting out, forms that needs signing, or new business leads that need pursuing. One of the ways that we can ensure that team members who are responsible for core management at Radish also get a legitimate break is to actually enforce it, and support it. Something is always bound to come up while we’re closed for a week, but chances are it’s nothing we can’t handle from a cafe in Rome.
  3. It’s a great motivator. We work hard as a small company. Forcing people NOT to come into the office is a way of saying thank you. Thanks for all of the overtime you put in this summer. And thanks for riding the startup rollercoaster with us.

We’ll be back in action on September 8th, when it’s suddenly no longer cool to wear white and the trees start wearing red. In the meantime, enjoy the last days of summer, and try taking a little down time for yourself. We hope you come back from Labor Day feeling refreshed and ready to create.