Is this the key to work-life balance?

From an article about Bandwidth CEO David Morken:

Bandwidth has (and enforces) a total embargo on email to and from the company during vacation.  That is, when you’re on vacation, you may not communicate with the company and they may not communicate with you

The results? Employees experience vacations as vacations: rejuvenation, reconnection and relaxation. And managers put more attention toward developing their folks  – because their folks can’t call them when there’s an emergency during their absence; they have to be willing and able to handle it themselves. Finally, Morken says, it makes managers more thoughtful about preparing for vacation: if you really can’t give added instructions, or sort things out while you’re gone, it’s essential to get as much clarity as possible beforehand about what’s supposed to happen when you’re not there.  He’s convinced that this has impact outside of vacation time, as well: that the increased clarity and trust ‘leak’ out into employees’ interactions every day.

Notes:
(1) The “don’t communicate” rule need not apply to anyone other than the person on vacation, as other people can’t be held responsible for knowing who is on vacation and for how long. This would simplify the rule, and place responsibility entirely on the shoulders of the person taking vacation — “If you’re on vacation, don’t contact anyone in the company, and set your email vacation response to I’m taking vacation and won’t reply to your email before I return. If it’s urgent, email xxx“.
(2) But this still leaves the stress of knowing that you’ll have emails waiting for you when you return from vacation — one of the factors that makes people check email while they’re on vacation. So here’s a potential solution: When you return, reply to every email you received with a standard reply: “You sent this email when  I was on vacation. If it’s still relevant and you require action from me, please send me an update.
(3) The “don’t communicate” rule can also be applied to evenings and weekends, but in a less draconian form — only communicate with people in your company outside work hours if the issue is urgent and important.

2 thoughts on “Is this the key to work-life balance?

  1. Pingback: How to stop email from ruining your vacation | A Founder's Notebook

  2. Pingback: Skift’s approach to work-life balance | A Founder's Notebook

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