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Inside Mobile Design and User Experience

Thoughts on mobile and social business applications, design, and user experience, by Chris Reckling.

I've had my vacation and the post-vacation lag in blogging, so now it's time to get back into it. I find that I always see good topics to blog about, but it takes me a bit of time to just sit down and do it...so here goes.

In last Sunday's (July 20) Boston Globe Magazine, there was an article about companies doing away with a set number vacation days. The primary example was from Netflix, the DVD/Movie rental company. Apparently, they don't have specific vacation time there, you just take what you need. However it seems like the expectation is that you are available - or, anyway, they only hire folks who are like that, obsessively checking email and responding in an instant!


"And that seems to be leading to an even more insidious message: Committed workers should not want a total separation. "Some people really need to get away and rejuvenate. That might not be the right kind of person for Netflix," Steve Swasey says."


Yikes! I can hear the interview questions now. "When you go on vacation, how many times/hour do you check your email?" "If you were on a deserted island and had a choice to bring either your ipod or your blackberry, which would you choose?"

(full disclosure: I meant to not check email while on vacation, because usually there is no connection possible, but this year there was a surprise internet connection in our cottage, so I replicated a few times and cleaned out the stuff I could just delete.)

Our very own Sandra Marcus was quoted in the article about how IBM doesn't really track your vacation time. My own experience agrees with that, both as employee and as manager. In fact, I sometimes have to go back through the year and make sure that I've taken all my vacation because I don't really think about it. I would not say that IBM has as liberal a policy as Netflix - i.e. we have a set number of vacation days that accrue throughout the year, plus holidays and "floating" holidays (these are holidays that you don't take on the day that they occur - don't ask me what they are!). Usually, the only time the vacation issue comes up is when someone leaves the company and you have to fill out the exit form so they can get paid for any unused vacation.

I do worry that if you don't completely get away and recharge, then in the long run it doesn't do the company any good. Now, if your idea of fun is to sit down with Domino Designer and learn a bunch of new things, or take the time to learn how to program Dojo or something, then you can both "have fun" and learn something new while you are out (I did that one year, since it was raining and I wanted to re-learn DD.) The best solution is to go some place where there is no connectivity, and therefore no temptation to check email.

What's your vacation philosophy/policy? Get away completely? or keep in touch with the office?

Chris Reckling
Program Director, UX MA Design Studio, Lotus Software

Chris Reckling | 23 July 2008 03:20:00 PM ET | Westford, MA

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