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The Power of PTO and No Meeting Fridays

This article was first published on LinkedIn.

Taking time for rest, recovery and self-care is incredibly important, especially after the year we’ve just had. As a B Corp, it has always been important to Avenue to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our team members by creating boundaries around our workday. And also by making it safe to not work after hours or while on vacation. The ability for team members to have permission to rest and recharge was designed to foster an environment where everyone can bring their best work and mental capacity to the virtual office and thrive.

At Avenue, we’ve found new ways to help our teammates take a break. Twice a year, we close our virtual office at Avenue for a Summer Holiday Week and a Winter Holiday Week. In addition to our Unlimited PTO policy, we’re continually learning and adjusting our practices to help our team build resiliency and feel supported and empowered to rest and recharge. It’s a work in progress, but we’re starting somewhere.

Our goal is to make sure our team members are working sustainably and finding ways to recharge and enjoy life. We’re also holding ourselves accountable to this goal by measuring a new team health metric (thank you, Q2 Strategic Planning), and ensuring team members are taking advantage of PTO to take a break.

Avenue’s Summer and Winter Holiday Weeks

Since Avenue’s inception, we’ve always had a two-week optional work-from-home holiday period at the end of the year starting around December 15th and continuing through the New Year. This allowed Avenue team members to have more flexibility to spend time with family and friends during the holidays if desired. This past year, due to the pandemic and a perpetual work-from-home environment, we opted to close our virtual office for the holidays with an official Winter Holiday Week from Christmas Eve through the New Year. It went off without a hitch. So this year Avenue added a second Summer Holiday Week into the mix. From Monday, June 14th through Friday, June 18th, Avenue will be out of the virtual office for a week to take a break and enjoy a well-deserved summer holiday.

Our team works diligently in the weeks leading up to the Holiday Week to prepare our clients for the time off and ensure all campaigns, marketing efforts and content publishing activities are set up to run smoothly in advance, and to prevent emergencies. Of course, our clients will still be able to get a hold of us in case of an emergency (you know where to reach us!).

While this is mostly a time for our team to take a break, enjoy the sunshine and recharge, the benefit is mutual. When we return, we will be stronger, fresher and ready to tackle new creative challenges for all of our amazing client partners.

No Meeting Fridays

It’s amazing how a day full of off-and-on meetings can hinder productivity. For the last year, we’ve had a No Meeting Friday policy that frees up our team to do uninterrupted deep work for clients on that dedicated day. And we may extend that to more than one day in the future. It’s very important to Avenue that we make the space to do great work for our clients, and we protect this time diligently.

In the past, I’d often get to the end of a day and feel unaccomplished because my meeting schedule made it challenging for me to maximize my time and my ability to be productive. Having a day without meetings minimizes distractions that interrupt workflow and make it difficult to get back into working on a project or task. While meetings and connection points with clients and team members are incredibly valuable and important, we just don’t do them on Fridays. Our meetings, check-ins, lunch and learns, happy hours, strategic planning sessions and more can all happen on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

So, here’s to Friday. A day of productively checking projects off the list! There’s no better feeling, IMHO than going into the weekend with my to-dos completed and emails and tasks teed up for the upcoming week.

Unlimited PTO Policy at Avenue

At Avenue, we also have an Unlimited PTO policy. We know that unlimited policies can often feel like an honor system that actually discourages the use of PTO, so we now measure it as one of our company KPIs to make sure team members are actually taking advantage of the policy and using PTO. And, that they are also taking enough of it!

Avenue suggests that team members take approximately one week of PTO per quarter, in addition to the two Summer and Winter Holiday weeks mentioned above. In total, Avenue team members should be taking around 30 days+/- of PTO in the course of a year. We also have a minimum threshold for PTO. If team members are not taking at least three weeks of PTO (in addition to the Summer and Winter Holiday Weeks) in a year, we believe we’re falling down on our commitment to supporting our team member’s health and wellness. In total, our team should be taking a minimum of 25 days of PTO each year.

The past year has underscored the importance of empathy and team health and wellness. We envision a workplace where all of our team members can flourish both professionally and personally. We’re always continuing to learn, iterate and improve. Together, the Avenue team is collaborating to improve our PTO and meeting practices and to create the space we need to take care of ourselves and those around us.

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