We talk uncapped leave, and its benefits, on the BBC

By Katie Mitchelmore on 27 February 2019
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In a recent BBC article, Rosie Haslem, Director at Spacelab, was asked to comment on Spacelab’s uncapped annual leave, and the benefits it’s had on us and our team.

We’ve already discussed on here why, and how, we scrapped the limit on annual leave. For us, uncapped leave was just an extension of our already existing values and culture. We know that we’re all adults, and trust that everyone is more than capable of managing their own time and workloads. We also believe that applying strict limits - on anything - in the workplace rarely results in the best output for anyone. Uncapped annual leave allows people the flexibility to take time off as and when they need it, without limitations or the fear of running out of leave allowance.

Our previous article sparked a few questions, with many people asking how it was going, and whether people were actually taking any more, or any fewer, days off. A lot of concern around uncapped leave, as highlighted in the BBC article, and why some companies say it didn’t work for them, seems to be around people not knowing the true ‘limit’. One example given in the article is that people end up taking fewer days, due to anxiety about being seen to take too many days off. Conversely, there are also concerns that people will take too much time off, leaving their team to pick up their work.

We believe however, that the key to success is creating a culture of trust. Where there’s trust between colleagues these anxieties shouldn’t exist, and people should feel free to take the amount of holiday that is right for them, and that works for their project team and the business.

Since implementing our uncapped policy, we’ve found that people are actually taking more holiday, with the average number of annual leave days taken having increased from 25 to 32.5 days per year (both excluding bank holidays). How people take holiday has also diversified, with a mixture of longer periods to go abroad to visit family members, and shorter last-minute time off. We also found that the number of sick days has decreased by 45%. Allowing our team unlimited and unrestricted opportunities to get out of The Lab has helped give people a better work-life balance and, we believe, has resulted in a happier and more productive team.

“It allows me to spend valued time with my family who live abroad, as well as be able to take a day off here and there to refocus and recharge my mind. Overall I now feel happier and more motivated when I am at work.

Anonymous quote from a staff survey.

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Photos by Laurie (header image), Sami, Rosie, Tom, Shiv, Katie and Gemma.

Topics: design, team, spacelab, architecture, workplace consultancy, Office wellbeing, workplace research, agile working, augmented reality