We’re closing down this August.
Not permanently – but for the first time in our 22 years of practice, Realize is closing our practice down in the middle of August for a week.
But why? We can hear many of you asking. What’s the point of closing in the middle of August? Is it for some weeklong professional development bootcamp? A tech infrastructure overhaul?
We’re going on vacation, actually.
Every other week, our team gathers for Innovation Hour, where we explore new topics, ideate solutions, exercise our innovation muscles, and widen our perspectives. You may have seen us sharing Innovation Hour cards every other Tuesday on social media to help kickstart your own team’s creative discussions.
Recently, we held an Innovation Hour around how we as an organization can better live out our values. As a proud B Corp rooted in the co-operative model, we have always embraced and championed investing in your people, social purchasing, improving our business practices and office space to be as environmentally friendly as possible, and more. But the pandemic and extended lockdowns had us re-examining our current policies and having a frank conversation of how people were feeling – mentally, physically, and emotionally – and what Realize as an organization could do to support each team member’s wellbeing. We strive to put our people at the centre of everything we do and foster a culture workplace that provides everyone with the infrastructure, tools and opportunities to realize their full potential.
I Really Miss Going On Vacation
Unsurprisingly, “I really miss going on vacation” was a common refrain across our team. Even with the vacation days piling up in our respective holiday banks, many on our team felt reluctant to go on holiday. Who wants to travel when you can’t visit your family in Toronto or vacation in Cabo San Lucas? Recent surveys showed that we weren’t alone – in fact, 93% of Americans stated that they cancelled, postponed, or didn’t even bother planning a vacation in 2020 due to Covid.
Our team is also based in Vancouver, BC., a city that is located inside a temperate rainforest biome. Aside from a few short months in the summer, it’s grey and raining for the vast majority of the year. The overcast weather can worsen conditions like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as well compound the mental stress of living through a global pandemic.
When we asked our team to share their honest thoughts on what Realize could do to help, the idea of closing the office in summer was brought up. Everyone would have a week off to enjoy the sunshine, relax, and safely hang out with family and friends. We’d give our clients and partners advanced notice so that everyone could fully relax and not worry about work – no meetings, no video calls, no emails. Just disconnecting from work for a week.
Office Closed: On Vacation
Our team voted on closing the office and the answer was a resounding “YES!” For the week of August 9-13, we are closing our office and having our staff enjoy a week of paid time off. Our team discussed internally and agreed to use one week of our holiday time to coordinate with the office closure. We’re also encouraging everyone to take an additional week or two before or after the week of August 9th to go enjoy a staycation and explore our beautiful province.
The Cost of Skipping Vacation
We aren’t giving our team a week of paid summer holiday for a PR stunt. Skipping vacation isn’t healthy. Many employees may currently think that they may as well keep working since international travel isn’t an option. Others may also feel pressured to skip their vacations because they’re already dealing with reduced hours and income.
But leaders should be encouraging their staff to take time off. Studies have shown that productivity and creativity take a sharp nosedive when we work for extended periods without a break. Taking a vacation has clear benefits: increased productivity, lowered stress, and better mental health. Research also shows that after taking a vacation, 78% of employees reported as being more focused and 81% reported that taking a vacation helped alleviate burnout.
Telling your workers that it’s ok to take a break to rest and recharge is needed now more than ever. Workplace burnout numbers are soaring – our local workforce survey revealed that 53% of frontline workers felt overloaded or anxious at work and a national survey revealed that 50% of Canadians reported that their mental health has worsened during Covid. 73% of American professions reported feeling burned-out with the top reasons cited including no separation between work and home, unmanageable workloads, and worries over job security.
However, it’s not just your people who are bearing the health cost of skipping vacation. Your organization’s financial liability is also at risk. Having a mountain of staff deferred holiday time is a risk and financial liability. For example, if someone has six weeks of holidays and resigns, you will likely need to write a cheque for that individual’s holiday time. Combined with the high rates of people currently feeling burnt out, it’s a hefty and dangerous risk to not encourage your employees to take a break and use their saved vacation time to recharge.
We Challenge You
We’re closing our doors this summer from August 9-13 to allow all our staff to enjoy and look forward to a week of rest without worrying about continuing operations. Along with taking care of our own mental health, this break is also way to remind ourselves that the world will continue to spin even if we close shop for a week.
We challenge you and your organization to be bold: close your office this summer and have your employees enjoy their paid time off. Let everyone take a deep breath, step back, and disconnect from work. Enjoy the sunshine and give your people the time – whether flights are taking off or not – to rest in the beautiful and warm summer days.
Whether you’re a B Corp, corporation, co-operative, non-profit, social enterprise, charity, or another type of business, we challenge you to live your values to the fullest and put your people at the centre of your organization. Will you close your office for your people this summer? Let us know so we can celebrate with you and inspire others to do the same.