As you may have noticed, I haven’t been very active on our blog for a few weeks. I took two weeks of vacation and went back to France to spend some overdue quality time with my family. These two weeks were the most relaxed vacations I've had in a long time; thanks to the team, I was able to truly disconnect and focus on resting.
Now that I am back to work, I thought it would be worth reflecting on the importance of taking time off, and more importantly, how to take it.
Taking time off is part of your job
One would assume that the importance of taking vacations is rather obvious, but looking at statistics in Japan seems to suggest otherwise.
Vacations are an integral part of work; they have for goal to make sure that you can stay productive at work by being well-rested and healthy. Being healthy is actually a requirement that is stated in your rules of employment or working contract (go on, check).
Taking vacations is part of your responsibilities as a professional. If you can’t or don’t take vacations you won’t be able to be productive and perform adequately over the long run.
While on vacation, you need to be able to fully relax and disconnect from work, otherwise, you won’t fully recharge your batteries. Worse, you may end up even more tired than before taking them.
Now, as you most likely know very well, the more responsibilities or seniority you get, the harder it becomes to take vacations; it can sometimes feel as if something will explode the moment you get away from your screen for more than a couple of days.
So I wanted to share a few ideas about how to make that process a little less stressful; if you're stressed during your vacations, that defeats the point of taking them!
Fantastic Vacations and wh... How to fi.. Take Them
The best vacations are the ones that are stress-free and worry-free. In the same way you don’t want to have to worry whether you locked the door on your way to the airport, you’d rather not have to worry about an unplanned event setting your project on fire. Below are a few tips to just do that.
Plan in advance, be proactive
Don’t wait for your manager to tell you that you have a certain number of days left that you need to take soon. I know it’s not always realistic, but if you could plan for all your yearly vacations when you receive them, that would make the process much smoother for all parties involved. Even if you can’t commit on precise dates, if you could already say that you’ll take that many days on this or that month, that would already be very helpful.
Make sure that your team or project can survive while you’re away (don’t worry, they will)
It’s not really for them, it’s for your own peace of mind! Make a list of the top ten things that could go wrong while you’re away and make sure you have a solution for each (or that even if you don’t have a solution, the impact wouldn’t be so bad).
Delegate and create redundancies
Make sure that there are as few dependencies as possible on you, and that you have at least one other team member who is able to take care of each dependency. Document as much as possible processes; if writing is not your thing, recording screencasts is also a great medium.
If you are alone on your project, this is something you should discuss with your manager; it will be their job to come up with contingency plans while you are away. Just make sure to let them know soon enough.
Let others take vacations
It’s much easier to take vacations when others let you do so. By that, I mean that letting others taking vacations is part of teamwork. It is the responsibility of everyone in the team to make sure that other team members can take vacations when needed.
One way to do that is to proactively look at each other's dependencies and discuss them ahead of time. If you see that one of your teammates has too many of them, try to reach out and offer to share responsibility on some of them; it will be greatly appreciated.
Below is a summary of what I covered in the post. In a nutshell;
Vacations are important
Taking them is part of your job
Plan them in advance
Make sure you can go on vacations stress-free by removing dependencies
Help others take vacations by being mindful of their dependencies
We understand the importance of vacations and offer 5 extra days of paid vacations to be used during summer or winter. Wizcorp has always been a very international team with members coming from many different countries, and we felt that the standard number of vacations given in Japan was making traveling abroad challenging for those who wanted to go back to their countries for Christmas or the summer season.
We also give 5 days of sick leave (which unfortunately still doesn’t have any legal status in Japan in 2021!) to make sure that our staff can focus on their health when necessary and not have to worry about using paid vacations.
Not including the sick leaves, we are happy to say that our staff use on average 17 days of paid vacations every year, which amounts to 80% including the special 5 extra days. However, we know that it is far from perfect and we actively try to facilitate vacation taking with a goal to reach 100% within the next couple of years.
If you want to know more about our philosophy and benefits, please visit our career page.
Interested in joining? Please have a look at our job openings. We are actively looking for new team members.