How “unlimited holiday” policy has freed my mind and my work

Italy is a country of complex bureaucracy. Everything is measured and recorded on millions of paper forms, kept for years, sent to various offices, stamped, sent back…a right mess! So when mondora.com‘s CEO looked into changing the company’s holiday policy it seemed impossible.

As always when confronted with an impossibility, he found a way around it, and I recently signed a letter petitioning for unlimited holidays, which will then be approved by the Board of Directors (we actually have one??) and take effect. This new holiday policy is almost unheard of in Italy, and for mondora it’s an experiment…in which only four employees are taking part.

Many colleagues have spoken of the disadvantages of such a policy:

  • being considered lazy for taking more days off than others,
  • increasing the workload of other people,
  • not getting paid for unused holidays,
  • considering unlimited holidays as equal to no holidays

But what about all the advantages?

In my opinion, as mondora is a company based on trust and focused on treating employees with the respect due to adult individuals, there can be no disadvantages. We are valued for how we work and what we are able to create and maintain. We are not valued for how many hours and days we spend sitting in front of a screen. We work in teams of adults who are able to communicate and get organised so that workloads are distributed equally. We are able to evaluate when we can afford to take a few extra days off without disrupting our project.

And it’s not just holidays. With the current policy, we must report how many hours we have worked each day, even though our salaries are fixed and we do not get paid for any overtime we decide to work. I find this clashes dramatically with our other policies of work-hour flexibility, telecommuting and generally being on our smartphones and macbooks in the evenings and weekends, where we inevitably check out work stuff, or end up writing a blog post at 2 am…

I signed up for the unlimited holiday petition for these reasons:

  • I don’t have to count my holiday days – when I need a day off for something, I organise my work, coordinate with my colleagues, and take it, without feeling guilty.
  • I don’t have to report that I worked 8 hours every day. This has two advantages: when I work six hours one day and ten hours the next no one is going to make an issue of the six hour day, and when I work at 5 am on a Sunday morning I don’t feel bad about not reporting it. It’s entirely up to me, as long as the work gets done well and on time.
  • I can fully embrace our flexible work policies and organise my work to best suit my life schedule, my creativity and my concentration peaks, without worrying about hours and reports, thus increasing my productivity.
  • I have less worries = more time to focus and deliver amazing work!

Let’s face it, if a person is lazy and does not contribute much to a team, this will happen whether the person is away on holiday or sitting in the office. It’s all about trusting your teammates and communicating effectively. It’s about stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. It’s about getting rid of old work beliefs. It’s about being innovative and embracing change. It’s about trying. So I’m going for it!

What do you think of unlimited holiday policies? Do they work for you? Would you try it? Leave a comment, let me know!

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