Leave & Timings (#adulting) Policy

As we continue to expand our team, we are now facing a new challenge – how do we synchronise everyone’s leave and holidays?

For the past few months, our network of collaborators has grown. We now work with people, not just from India and Malaysia, but also from Ukraine, Egypt, Turkey, Brazil, and Amsterdam. Keeping the regular “office hours” has become impossible since it depends on which time zone the collaborators are based out of. Public holidays had become a complex situation – what if some Indian project is due on Wednesday, but the key people working on it are from Malaysia, and Monday + Tuesday are public holidays?

The unofficial employment rule book typically prescribes two things which is necessary for running a business: 1. Regular / regulated working hours to ensure discipline at the workplace, and 2. Standard 21-day leave plus a pre-defined number of eligible public holidays.

We thought really hard about this and decided that we need to have our own version of Leave & Timings policy.

This is still W-I-P. I am sharing this as it is now, to get feedback and insights from readers.

Leave & Timings (#adulting) Policy

One cannot talk about being flexible and pragmatic as values, yet not truly embrace flexibility. Flexibility starts with respect and trust. Having rules to promote flexibility is counterintuitive.

This brings us to the subject of working hours and the leave policy.

We are spread across cities i.e. time zones. While it is exciting to work with and learn from people across the globe, it poses many challenges. What is the end-of-day for one member is the beginning of the day for another member. If you are based in Malaysia and have to coordinate with the Ukraine team, adjustments in working hours need to be made. Similarly, if you are celebrating Diwali and your Brazilian teammate requires help, adjustments have to be made as well.

On the other hand, everyone needs time off to maintain a good work-life-balance. It may not necessarily be vacations to exotic places; it could just be a day off to do house cleaning, visit grandparents, or sing along with Coldplay in a city that’s a 4-hour drive away. Even on a daily basis, there are reasons to take time off – be it a morning to take parents to the clinic, an hour in the afternoon for a yoga class, or a 2-hour long lunch break because a good friend is in town. Life events, basically.

Whatever the reason, taking time off is allowed and encouraged. And when it’s time off, we don’t want to email nor WhatsApp you. Just go.

We choose to work differently. It is our wish to create a happier, healthier, and more productive workplace compared to other studios/consultancies.

To achieve this, let’s start with the following guidelines:

  1. There are no paid leaves or predefined public holidays; in other words, we have unlimited leaves.
  2. There are no defined working hours such as 9 to 5, 8 to 6, or 10 to 8. If you choose to talk to Ukraine at 1 am and then wake up at 9 am the next day, it is entirely your call. If you choose to go fishing at 530pm and restart work at 9 pm, that’s also your call. 

We will work on trust. You don’t have to earn it. The day you joined Fish, we placed our trust in you – that you will get your work done and meet deadlines, keeping the best interests of the company and your teammates in mind.

Taking time off is simple:

  1. For extended leave (a few days at a time), mark it as early as possible on the calendar. Assume it is approved. If you see another teammate has also applied for leave on the same days and both of you are on the same project, please synchronise and adjust amongst yourselves. If that can’t be resolved, bring it to the attention of your immediate project supervisor. In the best-case scenario, recommend a replacement (freelancer/contract worker) who can substitute while you are absent.
  2. For short leave and hours off, again, mark it on the calendar. No questions will be asked. However, you will have to make decisions regarding whether your few hours off will affect the progress of projects. If it does, make the necessary arrangements. For example, if you know you can only start work at 11 am the next day (because you had to speak to Ukraine the night before), make sure you properly plan and hand over tasks to the teammate who starts at 9 am.

Conclusion: There will not be a headmaster running the school. You have been empowered to make the right decisions for yourself, your teammates, and the company as a whole.

What do you think about this?

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