In a few weeks I'll be starting a three-month long sabbatical from my work at Automattic.
As a benefit provided by the company, it's pretty amazing. After every five years of employment, Automatticians are eligible to take a two or three month paid sabbatical to have a break from work, refresh and recharge. Several people (mostly used to academic versions of sabbatical) have understandably asked what expectations are placed on us during that time: research, writing, professional development? Nope, it's all about having a break.
For me personally it's a really neat opportunity, and one I haven't had before in this particular way. I started my first company when I was 19 and have pretty much been working full time ever since. Automattic has a generous and flexible time off policy but to have such a significant amount of time to pursue hobbies, personal projects and time with family and friends is really quite an amazing gift.
As a company, I think Automattic is still figuring out the implications and impact of its sabbatical program. It's an excellent way to make sure individual teams are not too reliant on any one person to function well...but that doesn't mean it's not a noticeable event when someone is gone for that long, especially on smaller teams. As the company grows and as many people impressively decide to call Automattic their professional home for many years at a time, the number of folks who will be eligible for sabbatical at the same time is increasing. But, these challenges have shown themselves to be worthwhile ones to tackle for a company so focused on creating a work environment that makes people want to stick around for a very long time.
So how will I spend my sabbatical? I'm planning a mix of adventure and nothingness. The nothingness is giving myself lots of unstructured time to relax, think, read, write, explore, exercise and more. Some of my volunteer efforts will also get an extra dose of time. The adventure will be some travel, fun summer activities with my family, and various projects around the house or beyond that I don't usually have time for. It's possible my blogging and photo posting pace will increase, or it may drop off altogether, but I am hoping to spend substantially less time on screens in general.
Thank you, Automattic, for this break. I'm going to make great use of it!
(If you think you might want to work at a place that takes such good care of its people, Automattic is hiring.)