In January, we implemented an unlimited paid time off (PTO) policy at Vodori, with the goal of enabling all employees to enjoy their time off without traditional restrictions. Unlimited PTO is a loaded concept—everyone I mention it to outside the office has a strong reaction. “Did you say ‘unlimited?’ Really? Are you hiring?”
We aren’t the only company that’s exploring this type of human resources policy; other organizations are also starting to take this approach to PTO, although the numbers are still relatively small. While our policy has been in place for only a few months, two trends have already emerged.
First, Vodorians aren’t taking any more or less time off, which is exactly what we expected. Our cumulative total of per-employee paid time off for through the first 5 months of the year is almost identical to the same period for 2015 (when normalized for changes in team size). Other companies that have switched to the unlimited PTO concept have reported similar results. We’re very interested to see if this trend changes throughout the year.
Second, Vodorians are taking some mighty awesome vacations. We had not anticipated this trend, but it’s an intriguing side effect of the new policy. So far this year we’ve had people holiday in Australia, Japan, Ireland, Myanmar, Anguilla, to name a few, plus other trips are on the books to Portugal, Korea, Amsterdam, France, and Thailand. For a small company, we’re acquiring a robust collection of Lonely Planet guides.
We can hypothesize multiple reasons why we’re seeing these trends, but our internal consensus is that unlimited time off gives people much greater flexibility in how they enjoy their downtime. Gone is the need to save a bank of days for random appointments or crazy “what-if” scenarios, and liberating that time enables people to take a different type of vacation.
Success in technology and digital marketing requires a mindset that is always willing to learn, experiment, observe, and engage. Through exposure to new cultures and ideas, Vodorians are expanding their creativity and uncovering concepts that translate to improvements in how we support our clients, how users engage with our products, and how we look to serving a wider audience.
Our willingness to embrace new ideas at Vodori is reflected in many ways—through implementation of new APIs in our Pepper platform and in how we help our clients craft brand stories that engage their customers, to name just two. It’s also evident in our travels, as we experience the opera in Sydney or practice meditation in Yangon.
But we aren’t just a band of pie-in-the-sky dreamers—we get stuff done. Clients continually tell us our responsiveness and service delivery are the things that differentiate us from market peers, and we believe this feedback is a reflection of our approach to business and our free-spirited and adventurous culture.
This mindset allows us to approach our clients’ complex problems as opportunities to roll up our sleeves, go off the beaten path, and execute new approaches. Our style requires Vodorians to be OK with stepping outside their comfort zones, being challenged—and maybe even a little stressed—and willing to recognize that the journey is just as important as the destination.
Just as our work is a journey, so too is our implementation of unlimited time off. We still have lots to learn and, no doubt, adjustments to make, but we’ve seen great success so far and look forward to what the months ahead reveal.
Read what some Vodorians think of unlimited PTO:
“I was traveling with family members who didn’t have the same flexible policy. It was great to be able to say, ‘I can go whenever,’ because I’m not worried about accruing days and managing a bank of PTO. [The Vodori policy] let me focus more on planning the fun and adventures of the trip, rather than focusing on time off logistics.”
“The best part of Vodori’s PTO policy is seeing people take advantage [of it] for the right reasons—to explore, to relax, to spend time with family and friends. It makes for great conversations when people return to work, and overall it makes us happier, healthier co-workers.”
“Having unlimited PTO allowed me to take my trip to Europe and have a couple days at home to relax before coming back to work. Normally, I would’ve stressed about taking two weeks off and obsessed with the practicality of taking over half of my annual PTO so early in the year. But now that we have unlimited PTO, if something comes up—like a family emergency—and I have to take a couple days off, I don’t have to worry about mortgaging my time off for that versus time off at the holidays.”
“[The new policy] made me much less hesitant to plan trips this year. In the past, I’d consistently have two or three trips per year that I’d have to pass up to stay within my PTO hours. Mark Twain has a great quote: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesomeness, charatable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." that's my Millennial-minded view of the world."