This series profiles people whose ideas have the power to transform the workplace. Several are company leaders who have put their ideas into practice. Others are thought leaders influencing the way we work. Each new part will post on Tuesdays. This series originally appeared on the OpenWork blog.
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Bart Lorang, CEO of the cloud-based address book company FullContact, got sick of watching his employees waste their vacations. No sooner had an out-of-office notification gone up than the employee would start responding to emails, burning through precious time off out of fear of missing something back at the office.
So Lorang instituted a radical new policy — paying FullContact’s employees to actually go on vacation.
“It’s super important for people to disconnect,” Lorang wrote in his announcement of the program, which he illustrated with a picture of himself riding a camel through the Egyptian desert, ignoring the pyramids to check his phone. “It’s so important at FullContact that we will actively incentivize this behavior.”
Each year, FullContact offers a whopping $7,500 stipend with three simple conditions: 1) Go on vacation; 2) Disconnect from the grid.; 3) Don’t work a lick.
Unsurprisingly, it’s been a huge hit, and not just with employees. “The benefits have been improved productivity, improved processes, more rested workers and amazing recruiting,” says Lorang. “We have people go all over the world.”
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Of course, not every company can afford to pay employees $7,500 not to work, but smaller companies and startups can help their people to disconnect without spending money.
“I would just encourage ‘offline time,’” Lorang says, “like weekends where people are off-grid and dinners with spouses where you leave your phones at home! There are lots of small things you can do to try to achieve some digital detox.”