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Our Vacation Policy: Mandatory Minimum Days

This post is part of a series about our VERY FEW company policies. Read this intro post for some context.

Our vacation policy for years was this:

Take some!

But then we noticed that our US-based employees weren't taking enough vacations, so now our policy is this:

Take at least 20 days off a year.

That's it!

Of course we follow regional labor laws, so our full policy has a lot more legalese in it, but that's not the point of these blog posts, the point is to capture the spirit of each policy.

I was interviewed by CNN Money about our vacation policy, check it out: Forget unlimited time off. Vacation is mandatory at these companies.

In general, I don't care when you work or even how much you work. What I care about is that you do your best work, at a good pace, sustainably. We care about results, not hours-spent working. Some people call this ROWE.

Sustainability is why we created the policy, to make sure everyone DOES take time to relax every few months, to disconnect and recharge. Burnout is the last thing I want from my employees.

Since we don't have deadlines, I encourage people to set their own schedule spending time with family, pursuing hobbies, or just plain relaxing when it's most convenient to them. We'll adjust around it.

One of the lessons I remember more vividly from working for Jon Gay is when he told me: it's never a good time to take vacation, so take it when it's most convenient for you.

I totally agree. It would be great if you made sure support was covered while you're out, but worse comes to worse, that's something that I (as the CEO and former single-founder) can cover, I'm rarely totally on vacation.

I'm also not worried about people taking too much time away from work all at once, as being gone for 4 weeks straight impacts their pace quite a bit. 🙂 But people are totally encouraged to go work from a vacation spot and only work half-days for a while, that's what I do every summer!

So that's it, take some time away once in a while!

Hope this helps,

Note: this post was originally published in 2011 and was updated in 2017 to include the shift to "minimum days".

Peldi for the Balsamiq Team

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Comments (7)

  1. Pingback: Eerlijke en simpele Employer Branding bij Balsamiq | | Michel RijndersMichel Rijnders

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  4. Clear, infromvatie, simple. Could I send you some e-hugs?

  5. Pingback: Looking for an Outgoing DevOps in California | Life @ Balsamiq

  6. I appreciate that from your vantage point the policy of non-accrual of vacation, and a “do what’s right” policy towards vacation must seem like you are building a cool place to work. Frankly as a grunt i find that very irritating. You are just then left with the feeling that your boss is granting you a great gift by allowing you time off because they are an altruistic good guy. No damn it, i’ll EARN my vacation days, even if they are ridiculously paltry. So long as my pay check says they’re mine, stamped in indelible ink, something that was earned.

  7. There’s a nice discussion on this post happening on Hacker News:

    Peldi Guilizzoni