The radical unlimited vacation experiment
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The story of how one company tested the fantasy
Trusting your staff to take as much time off as they need to rest and avoid burnout sounds like the ultimate post-pandemic workplace reset, but what would it be like in reality?In this episode, Isabel talks to Amy Cowpe of Charlie HR, a human resources software company based in the UK, about its radical unlimited vacation experiment. What happens when you give people the freedom to make their own choices? The experiment (spoiler alert) didn’t work - but not for the reasons you might expect. Even so, some big-name companies, including Netflix, have long had a ‘no vacation’ policy. How do they make it work? Isabel also talks about the history of paid holidays - her own grandmother had just one day off a month as a live-in maid for a rich English family in the 1930s (yes, it was a bit like Downton Abbey).
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Mentioned in the podcast:
Charlie HR’s blog about its unlimited vacation experiment: https://www.charliehr.com/blog/we-tried-unlimited-holiday-heres-everything-that-went-wrong/
Pilita Clark in the FT on why unlimited time off means more time at work: https://www-ft-com.ezproxy.cul.columbia.edu/content/ca935b70-bf14-11e7-9836-b25f8adaa111
Psychoanalyst Josh Cohen’s long read in FT Magazine on how to avoid burnout (feat. Herbert Freudenberger’s work that coined the term ‘burnout’ in 1974): https://www-ft-com.ezproxy.cul.columbia.edu/content/ea0ea4cc-0320-11e9-9d01-cd4d49afbbe3
Presented by Isabel Berwick. Editorial direction from Renée Kaplan. Assistant producer is Persis Love. Sound design is by Breen Turner, with original music from Metaphor Music. Produced by Novel.
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