Would your company miss you if you took 6 weeks off for fun?

Warped Tour
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Social Fresh Wrap-up

I volunteered to work at Social Fresh Tampa yesterday with a great bunch of volunteers.  It was a great conference covering a variety of topics including corporate blogging, WOMM marketing, and a number of other topics relevant and useful to businesses, as well as those working in social media.  The next event they are doing will be held in Portland on March 29th.  If you live out that way, you should check it out.   There is also a Social Fresh community on Ning if you want to interact with some of the Social Fresh attendees.

I spent a work day at Social Fresh.  I didn’t have to take a vacation day, even though this wasn’t an HR conference.   I am lucky that I have a job that permits some flexibility for attending these types of events since they relate to what I do on a daily basis.   Other people who work in different situations have an entirely perspective on work schedule.

Time Away from Work

I had a pair of interesting discussions regarding time away from work yesterday.

The first one is just a fun idea, and it makes me wish I could do something like it this.  One of my volunteer colleagues at Social Fresh told us how she is going to take six weeks off work this summer to go on a six week cross-country trip following the bands playing on the 2010 Vans WARPED Tour.

While I wouldn’t be dying to see Agent Orange, Angry Samoans, or Assorted Jelly Beans, it would be great to be able to get six consecutive weeks off to go do something for pure enjoyment. I’m pretty sure I can’t do this without suffering from a debilitating illness.   It is difficult for me to imagine how I would step away from my job duties for that great a duration without causing problems for my employer.

Is there something wrong with that picture, or is it just the way the world works?

The second story is even better.   The story goes like this.  This guy works in a western state in the medical field.   In December, he packs up all his belongings and moves across country to the East Coast.  Before he leaves, he makes arrangements with co-workers to cover his shifts, which involves getting coverage for 3 24 hour shifts a week.  It is now February, and he is still employed out west, receiving health care coverage, although not getting any type of paycheck.

Ten weeks off of work — without taking vacation, or a leave of absence, or FMLA.  It’s brilliant, and it may be that this is only possible due to the nature of his work schedule and his professional skills.    It is cool that my friend is able to take advantage of this situation, but I have to ask:

  • Where the hell is his supervisor?  They should at least be inquiring about the potential overtime costs being incurred.
  • Where the hell is HR?  Most places I have worked would have called this a resignation a long time ago.

The most important question for me though is:

  • How much longer can he pull this off?

These two discussions make me realize that I have a very conventional view of the way I work as it relates to pursuing life goals or special events.  I can’t take 6 weeks off and fly down to raft the Amazon.  I am not sure that I would spend the six weeks that way if I could get it, but I never even contemplate this type of activity.  It doesn’t fit into the world view that I have accepted as part of my work life, 5 days or more week, and two days off — most weeks, but not always.   Three weeks of annual vacation, which I normaly would not take at one time, because I have to hoard those precious days for when I “need” them.

I am thinking there is something wrong with this view.  Other people are clearly more clever and innovative than me about the way they approach time off from work.  I am jealous.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on the norms of the workplace and time off.

Should HR people be thinking about alternative arrangements?

Is this a benefit that would add value to your recruiting?

Could your company even begin to contemplate quirky work schedules?

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