Morfternight #47: Unlimited Time Off

🤩 We welcome six new Morfternighters who joined us last week! We love to have you here, and remember: like a smile, this newsletter can be shared with others without you losing anything.


📷 Photo of the week

Fly me to the Moon – More Photos

👋 Good Morfternight!

Vacation week #2 reached its end. I surprise myself by spending several hours in a row each day not thinking about work. It is easy to underestimate the time it takes to disconnect from something we do daily.

It’s not just my opinion.

I learned a few years ago from a Neurologist in Vienna that our brain requires two weeks off of a routine daily task to stop thinking about it for good. A few days away, don’t even get close. This is why I prefer to take time off less often but in longer chunks as years go by.

I have one week left; let’s see how far my mind can go! 😉

🌍 It’s about quality, not quantity!

Our time off policy is short: take the time that you need.

This sentence is extracted from the Automattic Field Guide, the handbook we all refer to in the company. It’s the opening line of the related page, which goes on with more details:

What this means in practice will vary from Automattician to Automattician and will likely be different for you year to year. There is no minimum or maximum, but we encourage you to take at least 25 days of time off per year. It’s important to disconnect from work from time to time. Time off includes vacations, sick days, holidays, and personal days.

The point is that, to be at the top of your form when you work, it is essential to disconnect periodically from it. The net benefit of those days off is positive as the quality of the work done will improve.

We also take two to three months of paid sabbatical leave every five years.

Long leaves have additional collateral benefits beyond one’s ability to disconnect, recharge, and come back ultra-motivated. They force every one of us to document our work, train and mentor our successors, and, in other words, guarantee that our team can keep running smoothly in our absence.

If doing great work with a fantastic team in these conditions is appealing to you, check out our open positions.

🤦 Warping the work-from-home revolution

Over the past two years, many humans have experimented with multiple distributed, remote, or hybrid work forms. The pace of evolution in that field has accelerated tenfold, if not more. Of course, we all read the stories about tensions between leadership and staff in companies that want to force everyone back to the office.

But there are other ways to ruin progress.

Across industries and incomes, more employees are being tracked, recorded and ranked. What is gained, companies say, is efficiency and accountability. What is lost?

The Rise of the Worker Productivity Score describes how intrusive and pervasive productivity monitoring creates the wrong incentives for workers, ultimately alienating them and the customers they serve.

🪩 The customer as hero

Speaking of customers, I found the ideas in The customer as hero fascinating. Angelique Little, the author, and designer at Dropbox, explains how her previous Hollywood career served her new one in Design.

When I started working in tech, I noticed that people talked about customers as if they were the audience of a movie we’re making, rather than the hero of the products we’re developing. In contrast, I approached it like studying a character, putting myself in the customer’s shoes and imagining how they would think or feel in a given moment.

Don’t let the similarities with the classic “user personas” approach fool you; this approach has much more depth.

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