Following in the footsteps of Netflix, Richard Branson recently announced that U.S. and UK Virgin staff can take as much vacation time as they want.

“It is left to the employee alone to decide if and when he or she feels like taking a few hours, a day, a week or a month off,” says Sir Richard. Sounds dreamy, right?
Be careful what you wish for. Unlimited vacation time seems like the ultimate in flexibility, but it comes with a pair of golden handcuffs.

With an unlimited vacation policy comes that assumption that employees will only take time off, says Branson, “when they feel a hundred percent comfortable that they and their team are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business — or, for that matter, their careers!”

If you take off one more week than your coworker, will you be seen as a less valuable employee? When you’re on holiday time, is your smartphone on holiday, too? Probably not.

Not going to work at all may be a more effective solution.

Another futuristic workplace policy, the result-only work environment (ROWE), allows employees to work from anywhere, anytime, any day of the week. Meetings must be justified and employees keep in touch over email, chat and virtual coffee breaks.

The Globe and Mail recently covered Canada’s first official ROWE, a Hamilton-based company called Mabel’s Labels. The article features one Mabel’s Labels employee who took a nine-week world trip, all the while collecting their paycheck.

After adopting a ROWE, Mabel’s Labels co-founder and vice president Cynthia Esp says that workplace tensions surrounding flex-time arrangements disappeared. “No results, no job,” says Esp in the Globe and Mail article.

With 35% of Canadian companies already offering flex-time (according to a 2012 study published in Industrial Relations), the movement towards a more flexible working world is evident.

Being at your desk is not the same thing as working. Nobody knows this better than millennials, a generation of future bosses who are much more likely to adopt super-flex workplace policies like ROWE or unlimited vacation time. When I’m the boss, it’s something I’ll be sure to consider.
Would you want to work in a ROWE? Let us know below.


Nicole Wray is a member of Generation Y and a regular contributor to Workopolis.
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