“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
The last three years at BrightGauge we’ve named the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve as “Flex Days”. At first, we loosely defined these days as “business as usual but everyone is flexible to work or wherever they want”. Hence the word flex day. This past year, though, we laid out simple ground rules for the days which were (1) no regularly scheduled meetings (2) no hard pressed deadlines and (3) no formal office hours.
The intention for these days around the holidays were/are simple. We want our team to enjoy what’s most important in life, family & friends, and there is no better time for that than during the holidays. Many of us either travel to visit family or host family in town so by working from anywhere, we can spend all day with our families while still being productive.
On Monday though of this week, the team came back noticeably more rejuvenated, re-energized, and I’d would even say happier (though we were pretty happy before) than I’ve ever noticed or felt myself. One of our developers even said the flex days this year were quite “restorative”. He, along with most, still worked every day and even came by the office a few times to get some solid hours in, but on his own time. So this past week I gave it some real thought and realized why these days were such a hit. With a few consecutive flex days, we all we were able to…
Create a clearing to work on the small things that clutter our minds.
By cancelling meetings and taking the pressure off major deadlines, we could individually work on the small things that always pile up on our to-do lists. Even something as simple as cleaning up our desks or running an annoying errand helped us clear our personal project backlog. Over time those little things also seem to add up, which we know can create stress/anxiety. These flex days provided the time work on these little things on the side without feeling guilty or having tasks stack up to a deadline.
Work on more creative tasks or focused work.
Less meetings or office distractions meant more focused time working on either one big challenge or just more creative thinking (depending on your role). I know, personally, Eric and I decided to meet casually at the office and talk through complex challenges that we’ll face in 2016 and come up with a plan of attack. Something that we typcially would have put aside for a Saturday when we’re “less busy,” was able to be tackled on a Tuesday morning. And I think other team members felt the same where they came back with clearer minds and better ideas for the challenges that lie ahead.
Break routines and forced “recovery” time from any monotony.
Even with our “small business, wear many hats” type of environment, monotony can still build up and the work could get mundane (we make it fun, but this will happen anywhere). The consecutive flex days forced a break in the routine and allowed a little recovery time from the grind. It’s like exercising, the best athletes know they need to keep workouts fresh and different in order to stay interested. And they also need to bake in recovery time for their bodies to heal. The truth is the same goes for business that are in it for the long haul. We need that stamina for the multi-year (shall we even say multi-decade) approach to growth.
To Eric and I, the benefits we noticed during the flex days and this week were fantastic enough to try something crazy in 2016. This year, in July, we’re going to force consecutive flex days for everyone at the office as kind of a mid-year break. We’re picking the week of July 4th to treat just like we did this past holiday week. Since it’s a short week due to the national holiday and being right after the 2nd quarter ends, it seems the ideal week for this exercise.
I’m pretty excited to have this on the calendar already. Because of it, I know we have baked in the time to do a mid-year cleanse to recalibrate our plans if needed, and recharge the batteries. From now until then, though, it’s time to get to get to work!!!