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Navigating Unlimited Vacation Policies as an IT Team

September 27, 2016

Unlimited vacation policies are becoming main-stream in today’s workplace as employees are seeking a better work-life balance; however, it can be a challenge for IT professionals to take time off. If you’re wondering how IT departments manage their unlimited vacation policies, continue reading! We recently explored to how some technology organizations balance employees taking time off while still meeting their project milestones and deadlines without being set back.

Originally posted on Think IT.

As summer comes to an end, the thought of going on vacation seems to also fade away. The weather becomes cooler, kids are back in school, or maybe you have already used all of your vacation days during the past few months. Traditionally, employees needed to strategically decide when to use their vacation time as they had a limited amount of days per year to use for taking time off. This definitely presents challenges for employees and their families and to the company as well, so how can companies combat these obstacles?

The workforce is adapting to these challenges, and many organizations are instating unlimited vacation policies. But, don’t jump to conclusions! In theory, you can take lots of time off, but you’re still expected to complete your tasks and not fall behind on your responsibilities. And as an IT professional, taking time off can be trickier than in other departments as IT often has to reach firm deadlines for their projects. Computerworld interviewed CIOs from a few technology firms (Akamai, CA Technologies, and VMware) to learn more about how they manage their unlimited vacation policies for their IT teams specifically.

Communication, Communication, Communication

All three organizations agree that open communication is essential when coordinating their IT teams’ vacation requests. Their teams discuss amongst themselves when they plan to be out of the office as other team members will have to step in for someone during that time.

While there is no set rule regarding how to track their employees’ time off, both Akamai and CA Technologies utilize shared calendars as a way to see who will be out for any given day. “This helps managers remember who’s out of the office for planning purposes.” VMware mentioned that they simply use the good, ole’ fashion email notification or just let their supervisors know in person.

Season’s Greetings

Thanksgiving through New Year is a busy time both in and out of the office. It can be difficult for a team to balance project deadlines and other ongoing tasks when several members might be taking the same days off. All three of the companies interviewed have established some guidelines to help reduce their teams’ stress levels during the holidays.

For example, Akamai executives never schedule project deadlines during this time frame as employees are more likely to take time off, and they also mention, “Holidays are really busy for our customers, and our teams understand that they may need to adjust their calendar for that.” The customer’s needs come first and there’s always the chance that project tasks may be put on hold to take care of them.

CA Technologies holds “blackout” dates for project deadlines during the end of each quarter to focus on the business’ needs, and VMware has a “year-end captain” whose job is to make sure vital functions of the IT department have workers assigned to them.

Developing Successful Workplace Culture

These companies don’t feel that their employees take advantage of or abuse the unlimited vacation policy. In fact, they believe the policy promotes a greater work ethic across their IT teams because it puts the responsibility on the employee, and the people who are hired all value the same things: hire top-quality people, work on your IT team’s culture, set the example, and trust the policy.

Does your organization have an unlimited vacation policy? What difficulties arise and how do you handle them?

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Posted By: Jaclyn Roman


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