Agency The Many is expanding its Labor Day holiday weekend into a full week-long vacation to give employees a “much-needed break” following an intense year of working from home and dealing with the stressors related to COVID-19.
“While a lot of our team have really adopted the idea of working from home longer-term, there are many who don’t feel like their lives were built for that,” explains Christian Jacobsen, founding partner, The Many. “So we started asking the question, what can we do to help?”
Anonymous surveys helped to further fuel this decision, he explains. The agency’s monthly check-ins earlier in the crisis added questions about stress levels and working from home. At first the responses were showing it was a very difficult time for most, and then people got a bit comfortable in their new routines so things got better, says Jacobsen. “But then we started to see a drop again as time went on and the team in Los Angeles, especially, started to seem like there was no end in sight.”
Individual time off was not a solution either. Although the agency continues to offer everyone “unlimited vacation” and is “pretty generous with time,” Jacobsen noted it’s been harder for people to take time off “whether that was due to not having somewhere to go or managing work loads.”
He adds, like a lot of agencies, “we went through a round of layoffs early on, but we’ve won a lot of new clients since then, which is great news, but that means a leaner team has been revving the engine really high.”
Also, agency leaders wanted to support those with children who may need time to navigate the increased responsibilities of at-home learning for a new school year. “Now’s the time to give everyone that much needed reset.”
Jacobsen admits one challenge was client acceptance. “We have control over our own business, but we don’t really have control over our own time,” he says.
To alleviate this pain point, the agency started to let clients know what to expect and adjust their schedules accordingly about five weeks ago. “But of course, other emergencies and new business opportunities have come up, but we’ve held strong and said we are closed that week, and the cool thing is that clients respect that because they want what’s best for the agency. We’ve actually seen wonderful support from the clients because they know they are going to get a better product,” he says.
He is unsure whether this week-long “Labor Week” pause is a one-year only occurrence or will become an annual break. “Right now, we are really focused on this as a solution to a current situation, which is burnout due to a pandemic.”