Agencies are notoriously busy and demanding workplaces, which can sometimes make people feel like there are no clear boundaries between working life and life outside work.
At Vero, we encourage our team to take leave when needed. We’re so in favor of the benefits of R&R that we launched an unlimited paid leave policy last year.
But what happens when you just cannot take time off? When your schedule is so busy that planning a break seems totally out of reach?
We’re putting together some straightforward steps to ensure you’re getting the time off you need to help you continue producing excellent work.
Step 1: Know that you deserve time off.
On average, a person spends 90,000 hours, equal to one-third of their life working[i].
That’s a lot of hours.
At Vero, we encourage our team to take a yearly minimum of 15 days leave (besides the occasional one day off), to have an adventure and a proper rest.
Taking time off isn’t just something you deserve; it’s something you need. Giving yourself space away from work to experience new places isn’t just good for your mental and physical wellbeing, it will also have a positive effect on work.
Step 2: Think about the benefits.
If you already feel like you ‘just can’t find time to take a break,’ then chances are you’re nearing burnout.
According to the WHO: “burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. Three dimensions characterize it:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion.
- Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job.
- Reduced professional efficacy.[ii]”
Luckily the solution to burnout is straightforward.
Taking a break (at least two weeks off) will allow you to slow down. It means you’re taking the time to value yourself and your needs.
You can finally make the time to visit that place you always wanted to go, start that book everyone’s been talking about, or see that exhibition on your social media feed.
When you return to work, you’ll be lighter, happier, and more ready to get stuck back in again.
Step 3 – Plan ahead
As strategists, account managers, and creatives, you know how important it is to have a plan. You wouldn’t approach a brief without a detailed plan of action. So why should taking leave be any different?
The first step in any plan is to make some decisions about where you want to go, or what you want to do with your time off. If you feel anxious about finding time to research your holiday, try asking friends, family or colleagues about their recent trips – this is a great way to start figuring out which country you’d like to visit and what you need from your time off.
Once you’ve decided on where to go, the next step is booking your flights, or travel and accommodation. For cheap flights, start with Google flights, and try to book direct with an airline, as they’re often more reliable than third-party travel agencies. If you find that you’re unable to make time to do this, why not schedule out thirty minutes of your day as a meeting, to dedicate to this task.
If you’re feeling swamped with a big work project, plan your holiday for when it ends. Yes, more work might come in, but you’ve already planned for your leave, and your team will be there to support during your absence.
For those who are standalone team members, deviate to your line manager. They can help the rest of the team manage their workload. For those who are in management, please ask a manager from another team to help. Clients should feel reassured knowing senior team members are stepping in where they need to.
Team leaders should check in regularly with their team regarding leave. We recommend a casual quarterly check-in. If you notice someone has yet to vacation for a few quarters, ask them when they plan to take time off. It might be helpful to sit down with the whole team and plan together. That way, everyone understands and buys into the value of leave-taking.
Another way of encouraging leave-taking is to regularly share a schedule of who is taking leave and when. It’s a great way to keep everyone updated with absences and help your people take time off when needed.
Step 4 – Batch work
Now that your holiday is in your work cal, your team knows of your absence, and you’ve checked who you’ll be deferring inquiries to, it’s time to think about what can be achieved beforehand.
Is there an easy automation tool to help you batch schedule digital activity in advance? Sprout Social or Later app, are great social media schedulers for example. Could you send an invoice earlier or share an analysis earlier than a slightly future deadline?
If this isn’t possible in your work, leave clear handover guidelines while you are away.
Step 5: Share your experience!
Annual leave policies vary across Southeast Asia, with the average being ten days of paid time off across the region. To help others feel more comfortable about taking time off, share the experience of your break! Share in the lead-up to your holiday, share on social media while you’re at the beach, or climbing a volcano, and share ALL your holiday photos post-trip, with a message of how sad you are to be home.
Sharing is essential for team managers as it helps set an example for more junior team members.
Remember, you deserve time off.
Work will always be busy, but it’s not sustainable or healthy to not take leave. Everyone deserves to take a break, unplug and relax properly.
Working with your team on sharing workloads and responsibilities in your absence will benefit everyone on the team, yourself and your work – when you return from your break.