The Rise Of Company-Wide Holiday Shutdowns

23rd Aug 2022

Time-off may not always be as restful as hoped; with the continual need to check in and stay up to date with emails and slack messages for peace of mind. Company wide-shutdowns give employees a ‘real’ break with everyone being off simultaneously.

Promote mental well-being at work 

Increased time spent online is impacting emotional wellness, and physical and mental health, resulting in the rise of depression, anxiety and loneliness. The average internet user aged 16-64 spends 7 hours a day online, with many of us using social media in some form for work. Even when we’re not working, we’re thinking about work, creating somewhat of a blurred line between work and personal life. 

Employers have recognised the difficulty in switching off from work mode and the impact this has on mental well-being. The introduction of scheduled time off enables both employers and employees time off to fully recharge, whilst helping to increase mental well-being and tackle work burnout.

Leadership sets the tone for work-life blend

Employees need time off but also need to be encouraged to use their time for themselves.

Tim Ryan (US chair and senior partner) set the tone ahead of PWC’s shutdown week in July by posting about his plans on social media. He openly communicated that he’d use the shutdown period to spend time with family and take his dog for extra-long walks. 

Communicating and aligning words and actions is highly important to emphasise that you are serious about fully unplugging and highly encourage employees to do the same. 

Taking time off matters for every business 

Stats from the Happiness Index indicate that time off is one of the main benefits that a candidate looks for when searching for a new role. Data such as this initially led to the phenomenon of companies offering unlimited annual leave. What sounds like an amazing benefit comes with some major caveats. 

At one end of the spectrum, you might have employees who take advantage of this policy. The major pitfall, however, is the vast majority of employees would end up taking less than their statutory minimum level of annual leave, creating the opposite effect of what was intended.

Building a strong employer value proposition and positive work culture around taking time off is one of the most valuable things you can do for your working environment. Let employees know that it is totally okay to switch off from work to rest and recharge, and encourage senior leadership to role model this behaviour too. Not only does this create more productive, happier and engaged employees, but this also helps to reduce absenteeism and, ultimately, improves a company’s bottom line. 

The fear of disconnecting from work 

The reality is that taking time off and fully disconnecting from work has become more difficult than ever before. Many of us are riddled with the feeling of guilt and obsess over tasks that we haven't managed to complete, this includes both the leadership team and employees. 

Here are just a few simple tips you can share with your employees to help them unplug, not just for company shutdowns - any time off whether that be sickness or annual leave:

  • Disconnect from distractions - switch off all notifications including Slack and emails for at least some time during your time off.
  • Set a plan - communicate this plan with colleagues so if something crops up whilst you’re off, they can step in on your behalf. 
  • Let go - sometimes with work we have trouble letting responsibilities go; instead, enjoy or rest during your time off and lean on your colleagues for support. Vice versa you can do the same for them. 

Companies offering company shutdown periods 

All Flexified companies truly value flexibility, some of which champion paid shutdown periods as one of their many perks 😍

  • 11:FS:  The company challenging the Fintech industry with a transformative approach - they offer 25 days of annual leave plus a Christmas shutdown 🎄
  • Companion: Designing digital services and products is their speciality - they offer 33 days of holiday including bank holidays (+1 for every year you’re with them) and paid shutdown at Christmas 🎄
  • Freestyle: Tech-led studio specialising in solving customer and technology problems for big businesses offer 28 days holiday, plus Christmas shutdown, plus bank holidays.
And last but not least, at Flexa we offer 45 days holiday! This includes over 2 weeks of company shut down periods (in the last week of August and between Christmas and New Year), plus 25 days of holiday to be taken whenever, plus your birthday or a child’s birthday off, and bank holidays.