Why Anaconda Created a Company Policy to Give More Time Off

In the age of the pandemic, the balance of work and life has become hazy. Our employees have shared that there are many perks of being at home: cutting down on commute time, having the flexibility to pick kids up from school, and being able to run an errand in the middle of the day. However, it’s also hard for many of us to “shut off” our brains when your office is also your living room. We put in place a “Snake Day” policy to promote breaks for the entire team to counteract this.

What are Snake Days?

Our entire team is given an extra, mandatory day off each month, which we lovingly named “Snake Days” to pay homage to our Anaconda roots. These days off are typically tied to an extended holiday weekend or Friday to maximize our team’s designated time off. Rather than allowing people to use their Snake Days whenever they want, days off are designated in our corporate calendar in advance to ensure everyone has the time and opportunity to prepare and enjoy the holiday. Additionally, everyone having the same day off ensures our whole team truly unplugs, and there is no pressure to send any Slacks, answer emails, or schedule meetings. By giving our employees 12 extra days off each year, our goal is to ensure people take time to relax and unwind and spend time doing activities outside of work that can help them feel rejuvenated and productive throughout the rest of the month.

Why companies need to address burnout

We adopted a completely virtual work culture in early 2020 and began hiring remote employees around the world. This was great for increasing our candidate pool of diverse talent with a variety of backgrounds and skills. With this culture shift, we’ve seen lots of increased collaboration between people and departments. However, we also noticed some challenges. 86% of remote workers say they’ve experienced a great deal of burnout which is significantly higher than those who work in person. When you can’t physically see your colleagues in the office, there are blurred lines when reaching out past business hours or when people are on vacation. Being in a busy, startup environment, it is sometimes hard for people to set boundaries and share them with their team members. Especially when working across multiple timezones, it’s often common to receive an after-hours Slack or email that feels like it should be addressed immediately.

In the wake of the pandemic, we also saw people taking less PTO and making fewer travel plans. While we have an open vacation policy and encourage people to take time off, it becomes less common when teams have the opportunity to work from anywhere. Beyond a new way of work, the stresses of the pandemic and other economic and social challenges have affected everyone’s mental health in one way or another. Being resilient in unprecedented times, where our world shifts constantly, is exhausting. Many days, work is the last thing on your mind, and you need to take care of yourself. Ultimately, this mixture of factors can cause burnout, and we knew we needed to address it. We implemented Snake Days to ensure people are taking more time for themselves and prioritize their wellbeing. test

How our employees are using their Snake Days

We implemented Snake Days in July of 2021 and have seen the success of three additional days off this year so far. From going on vacations to having more time to focus on hobbies, here are some pictures from our team on how they enjoyed their extra time off.

Our CTO, Kevin Goldsmith, spent his time hanging out inside and making music.
Keshav Neupane, Sr. QA Automation Engineer, spent time visiting Lake Tahoe. Love these views!
Paul Salomon, Anaconda’s HR Specialist, had the chance to relax and paddleboard during his Snake Day.
I had the opportunity to take my daughter to the Austin Zoo (where we also saw some real snakes on Snake Day!)

As we continue to develop as a company and see changes in how we work, live, and spend our free time, we will continue to grow our policies to best match the needs of our team. We’re excited to see how our company culture continues to evolve and the impact of Snake Days on our team’s morale and wellbeing over time.

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