Take as much time off as you want


At Netflix, you can. The key is creating performance-based assessments. Same reason why my team virtually works from home.


Last week I was out on a short bereavement leave and it was such a comfort not having to worry too much about what was going on at work; while some of my other relatives had to get documentation to justify the time away from work. I think for each company, it goes to an overall philosophy about work and accountability and whether you get the best out of people just being there or feeling empowered to step away when it is needed.


I don’t want to be too much of a hypocrite. At this point, I get 4 weeks of vacation a year without a clue this year about how to spend it. And I can’t really imagine spending more than 4 weeks a year on vacation. But to know that you *could* must be pretty cool.

Comments (19)

  1. eR0CK says:

    Wish my company had something similar.

    Being 23 and getting two weeks a year is tough.  This is the time I should be enjoying life and while I enjoy my career, two weeks just isn’t enough to do and see the things I want aside from work.

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    eRock, when I was your age (ew, did I just say that), I always just fogured that I would need to take those longer vacations between jobs…you know, negotiating a start date ona new job that is more then a few weeks after you end the old job.

  3. Preston says:

    Heather, I was reading about the top 100 companies to work for in Fortune magazine and I had a question.  Do you guys have all those crazy perks Google has?  

  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    Preston, which "crazy perks" are you referring to?

  5. Francesco Esposito says:

    Preston –

    Microsoft has some perks that Google does not and Google has some Microsoft does not. The "crazy" Google perks you are refering to are probably Free Meals and Drinks, Gym Membership and Really good health benifits.

    Microsoft offers free drinks (which recently includes Starbucks Coffee and apparently costs the company upwards of 10 million dollars a year!). Microsoft has a number of (rumor has it) pretty good cafaterias on the campus, but they are not free. All Microsoft Redmond employees get a free membership to the ProClub (a really nice Fitness Club). As far as I know Microsoft has some of the best Health benifits of any company in the country, including 100% coverage for Employees and Dependants and some coverage for special cases (obesity, autism, etc.) that other companies do not typically provide.

    That is in addition to a number of programs like free relocation assitance (they even transport all your belongings and your car across the country), matching donations for time/money donated to charitable organizations, flexible hours, casual work environment, etc.

    Oh and you are working on the software that drives the majority of global computing and effects the lives of billions of people…just to name a few of the perks.

  6. eR0CK says:

    Haha, oops.  Hey, I didn’t make you say it!

    Good point about the idle time between jobs, may have one of them coming-up ::crosses-fingers::

  7. HeatherLeigh says:

    Nice work, Francesco : )

    Let me also add for the record that doing laundry at work is not a perk; it’s a substitute for work-life balance. I’d much rather do my laundry at home (did I mention my newly purchased front loaders? They are fabulous) than have visual evidence of my co-workers’ underthings. I’m OK with some conveniences being offered, but where’s the line between making life easier for employees and enticing them to never leave and have lives outside of the office? If you find yourself saying "I don’t have to go home because I can ____ at work" then that is a bit of a problem.

  8. Andy says:

    I don’t care much for MSFT as a company but it is coming around slowly and I have a bunch of friends that work there and I would waaaaaayyyyyyy!!!!!! rather have MSFTs benefits and salary scale then Googles. The autism benefits alone (I have an autistic son) are amazing. I work for a software company that lets me work from home every day though so I can’t complain.

  9. Bad_Brad says:

    In her blog entry, Heather touched on an area that many old school companies need to wake up to.  The days of needing to confine everyone physically to the same location to get work done are, in many cases, long gone.  That’s not to say that there aren’t times when face-to-face meetings and physical proximity to co-workers are needed.  But there is no reason why the same amount of work (perhaps more) can’t be accomplished from the comfort of one’s home.  And a great many employees will highly value that.  So, if you don’t offer this level of flexibility, you are going to miss out on a growing number of typically very talented employees.

  10. Jim S says:

    eR0CK, you’re supposed to be cavorting on weekends. It will feel like you’ve vacationed for four months out of the year. You kids should know better. It should be your instinct.

  11. HeatherLeigh says:

    Andy- you’re coming around, I can tell : ) I think the difference between Google’s benefits and ours have to do with their target candidate base. I’ve never visited there but I’ve gotten plenty of recruiting calls. In my opinion, they have set up their "perks" to create an environment as much like college as possible. They hire smart people and I suspect that college is when a lot of those people really came into their own (maybe found some othe similarly incluned people…got recognized for how smart they were,etc.). So re-creating that environment attracts a certain type of person that appreciates that environment. I feel that our benefits are really more focused on the whole life of the employee. Our healthcare benefits are the best I have ever seen. In my mind, it’s really up to the individual to select what matters to them most. For many/most, it would be about the type of work they would be doing and I think both companies have compelling jobs (I tend to think ours are more so, or I wouldn’t be working here).  Plus, I don’t want to work in an environment that is that similar to college. Early in my career at Microsoft, the Office dev team had set up a foosball table outside my office door and it almost pushed me over the edge. I’m here to get stuff done and then log off and live my life. Sure, there’s always some cross-over, but a "fun" work enviornment is not a substitute for having stuff going on outside. Well, that’s just how I see it. : )

    Jim S – yeah, cavorting on the weekends and then worrying about not growing up to be important during the week. Or was that just my twenties? Man, you could not pay me to go through that again.

  12. Andy says:

    I agree 100% with your assessment. I looked at Google when they decided to put a facility in Hood River which is not that far from where I live. I also have seen MSFTs benefits package up close and personal since many of my friends work there and have been kind enough to share their info with me. I could never put my finger on it but you are exactly right, Google reminded me of a college dorm or frat house and MSFT is a professional working environment for adults. Some people thrive in the "college" style environment of startups. I don’t. I worked for AT&T for many years as a developer and that is what I enjoy. MSFT is a lot like AT&T from what I have seen and like I said before I would much, much, much, rather have MSFTs benefits and professional engineering environment than Googles dorm room environment. To each their own but I am far to old to be riding a skateboard indoors and wearing ratty T-shirts to work and doing my laundry with 100 other people. I left that life behind when I got out of the Marines and I do not miss it.

  13. Francesco Esposito says:

    Heather – Thanks, now if only I could get an interview with you all… 😛

  14. eR0CK says:

    Cavorting has it’s pluses and minuses.

    Trust me, I’ve certainly done my fair share and I still get to go out here and there.

  15. Wine-Oh says:

    I work for another large well known fortune 500 co. The work life balance is great. One can work from home when needed, we get other perks and steep discounts on merchandise. Sometimes I think its about building a community with the mentality of "build it and they will come." But the truth is we are doing some awesome things and its great to be a part of it. It echos some of the same sentiments above.

  16. Patblue says:

    HH – sorry to hear you have to take bereavement leave.  I have visited that while at msft, and it is a great benefit to have when you don’t have the emotional bandwidth to worry or deal with petty stuff.

    When we have lunch again, we will need to discuss your curiosity about more than 4 weeks off…:-).  I will take your time if you don’t want to use it!

  17. HeatherLeigh says:

    Andy, I’m with you on that!

    Francesco – I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

    eRock – it does have it’s pluses and minuses….more minuses when you get to be my age 🙂

    Wine-Oh – sounds like aniceplace to work!

    Patblue – that is because you think camping is a perfectly acceptable thing to do with your timer off and I don’t ; ) I may actually take some time off to work onmy yard and I’m kind of looking forward to it!

  18. Andrew says:

    That’s great! I would love to have unlimited days off. Heather, can you tell me how many days off Microsoft employees get? The website says that when hired employees get 15 days off. How many days/weeks do they get after 3, 5, 10,… years?

    Thanks much.

  19. Tim says:

    Weirdly my company has neither a vacation policy or a sick policy. Our president just says, "If you’re sick, stay home. If you want a vacation, talk to your manager and work it out." I’m not sure it works as well for our smaller offices (who might have 3 people working in it), but for our large one, it works out well. People seem to not take as much vacation as you would think.

    Oh yeah, and they let me bring my kids in when they’re out of school. Bonus!

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