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How a vacation manager buddy can help you miss work

Last year, Bumble gave employees a week off with pay in an effort to combat employee burnout. It’s made such a difference that the dating app company now offers employees a group vacation week twice a year.

It’s a big step forward that comes on top of the company’s generous leave policies, including 6 months paid leave after the birth, adoption or surrogacy of a child; a 4-week transition period for new parents; time off to care for a sick family member; and plenty of grievance days after a loss.

Although the company officially has an unlimited PTO policy, employees also get a “suggested minimum time” depending on their tenure, from 15 to 25 days. With company-wide shutdowns, that means some workers would have to take up to seven weeks of vacation a year.

To achieve that minimum free time, Priti Joshi, vice president of global business strategy and operations at Bumble, says having a responsible buddy helps. “It’s kind of like when people invite their friends to go with them to a workout class at 7 a.m. so they actually show up,” she says. “In this case, it’s someone at work who can hold you accountable for taking your PTO.”

She tells CNBC Make It that she’s been close to canceling her plans before, but having a colleague to support her free time (and help balance the workload while she’s away) helps.

Here, 35-year-old Joshi explains how to put that partnership into action, why she prefers to check work messages while on vacation, and the case for spontaneous time off.

Why it is useful to have a buddy responsible for the holidays: There will inevitably be urgent things that pop up at work and make it feel like an inopportune time to get off the ground. You may feel compelled to cancel your PTO. That’s when it’s important that the person holding you accountable takes your time off. They can be the little angel sitting on your shoulder reminding you that it’s important and good to get away from the office.

This person for me is someone I manage. She is my responsible pair. As much as I have a conversation with her when she considers taking the PTO, she may as well have the same kind of conversation with me.

Why it’s important for leaders to model time off: Our CEO and Founder Whitney Wolfe Herd recently had her second child and she has gone on full maternity leave. He is such a good example for other parents. I recently took 6.5 months maternity leave. So there are very good examples from all over the company.

Why she prefers to check her work while she’s on the PTO: What makes me feel confident and more comfortable is doing a 5 minute check-in in the morning when my daughter is taking a nap. I’ll just do a quick scan of what’s going on in email or Slack, but I’m not responding. I’m not going to take out my computer. I think it helps me feel comfortable when I go back to work.

This doesn’t have to be the case for every holiday. For me, this is how I allow myself to check in during critical times. But most of my team prefer to remove Slack and messaging apps from their phones.

Why a spontaneous leave is as important as a long vacation: Along with thinking about planning ahead for your PTO, we also make room to pause and give ourselves the grace to take care of ourselves in the moment. For example, I was a single parent to our 8 month old daughter this week while my husband is traveling for work. It’s a lot of homework on top of what we have here at Bumble. Looking ahead, I saw that my Friday is quite light, so I plan to leave in the afternoon to spend with my daughter and my husband when he gets back.

This kind of flexible PTO environment means I can make sure I don’t drop any kind of important work that needs to be done, while taking care of myself.

What she would say to herself at 25 about furlough: Take as much time as you can. The work will be there when you return. I would also ask myself: what are you worried about? And if something worries you, how can you put in place support mechanisms at work to help you not worry about taking time off?

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


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