Time Off, Pandemic Edition
How to Recharge Despite, Well, Everything
A friend of mine who is spending the summer working remotely from her family's lake house took last week off to relax, recharge, and get out on the water in the middle of a weekday instead of just looking at it longingly while she's on Zoom calls.
Another friend is on vacation this week. Even though she's stuck in her apartment under a strict lockdown, she's using her time to sleep, cook, write, and generally engage in self-care activities.
And a third friend is taking next week off and plans to spend a few days camping in a local state park, connecting with nature and ignoring every single one of her Slack notifications.
Vacationing this summer might not look like what you expected. There will be no trips to Europe, no big musical festivals, and certainly no all-inclusive cruises in your near-term future.
But that doesn't mean that you can't vacation—and the majority of you are still planning to. We polled our audience and found that 65% of people plan to take time off this summer, with half of them doing so as a "staycation" and half heading away from home for safe travel, and only 32% of people planning to reschedule vacation days for a later point.
Whether you take PTO to disconnect from work, catch up on household chores, reconnect with loved ones, or just relax, taking vacation is a good way to manage and support your mental health. And companies are in sync with that: a recent WSJ article explains that many companies actually want employees to take off time now because it'll reduce the chances of them burning out and it'll help avoid a glut of vacation days all taken near the end of the year.
If you are planning on still taking vacation and haven't figured out how to do so yet, here are some tips on how to make the most of it.
1. Communicate well.
You're working from home (or, said less optimistically, living at work). Can you still ask to take time off even if you're not going anywhere? The answer is unequivocally yes, but doing so isn't as straightforward as it was in the Before Times. Read the PTF guide for asking for time off while you're working remotely for tips like choosing your dates ahead of time, putting your request in writing, and setting up good escalation methods.
2. Set yourself up for success upon your return.
No one wants to click into their work inbox after a week off and find it full of disasters. PTF's Marketing Director shared her tried-and-tested approach to preparing to take time off, including a sample vacation email to send out the day before that you can and should copy, paste, and send to your manager. Don't say we never gave you anything.
3. Choose the vacation that's right for you.
Some people feel comfortable traveling for their vacation. Others don't want to leave the house. We're not here to judge anyone's plans, particularly since no one's personal circumstances and local regulations are exactly the same. As long as you are educating yourself about what's safe and allowed in your area and acting responsibly, we support any and all versions of vacations—and here are some of our favorites:
The staycation. Whether you live in a COVID-19 hotspot or just don't want unnecessary exposure, you might feel most comfortable spending time at home on your days off. Try one of these subsects of a staycation:
- The creative outlet. Bring out the puff paint, the tie-dye kits, the notebooks, the cookbooks, the charcoal: there's a new master artist in town. Spend a few days unlocking the creative side of your brain, exploring your imagination, and getting your hands dirty, and come back refreshed and full of new ideas.
- The productive sprint. Maybe you're the kind of person who loves crossing items off your to-do list, but you haven't had time to make progress on them while juggling the craziness of these last few months. Use some of your vacation days to finish those lingering house improvements, plant the garden you've been meaning to get around to, update your financial planning, or take care of whatever tasks are hanging over your head. The weight off your shoulders will be worth it.
- The backyard adventure. Sure, maybe Disney World got booted off the summer agenda. But setting up an outdoor viewing of Frozen sounds pretty fun, too, right? (Bonus points if you dress up in costume and give autographs like the characters in Orlando would've done.) Whether you go for a movie double-feature, backyard tent camping, or your own version of the American Ninja Warrior course, taking a few days off to enjoy time spent with family in your own backyard is a great idea.
- The My Week of Rest and Relaxation. Have you read Ottessa Moshfegh's darkly funny, strangely prescient novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation? If you haven't, here's a quick synopsis: a young women feeling a bit lost plans to escape life by using prescription drugs to sleep for a year. We are very much not recommending that you do that, but we do fully support you using your time off to just rest. You don't have to have a creative or productive or busy vacation—you can spend it sleeping in and reading books (starting with that one).
The local escape. If you can travel a bit outside of home, but still don't particularly want to get on a plane, try one of these vacation adventures:
- The bike trip. It feels like everyone I know is becoming a bike person and I love it. Helmeting up and biking around is a great way to get to know your own city. Look up the closest body of water and plan a trip there, decide on an arbitrary distance (maybe a century, if you're feeling strong?) and make it happen, or just head out with no destination in mind and enjoy the sound of the wind through your spokes.
- The park hop. National and state parks are, by and large, still open—and they're a great place to get in some time with nature while also social distancing. Head out for a good old-fashioned road trip with friends or family for all the hiking, mountain-worshipping, and picnicking you can handle.
- The Airbnb adventure. Maybe you want to spend your vacation doing a whole lot of nothing but want to stare at a different four walls while you do it. Look for local properties with updated cleaning polices and rent a local getaway. A change of scenery may be just what you need to finally relax long enough to watch an entire season of New Girl in peace.
- The faux luxe escape. Have you heard of apps like Swimply and Turo? The former lets you book local private pools by the hour, and the latter does the same but with private cars. Spend a day at a swimming spot that's close to home and all yours (at least for an afternoon) and another few days cruising around in your dream car, whether it's a classic or a convertible. Indulging in activities that feel like a luxury vacation but come without the all-inclusive price tag will keep both you and your wallet happy.
However you decide to safely take PTO this summer, we hope your time off helps you relax and recharge. And if you read any great books on vacation? Send those recs our way, friends.
Growing Your Career in Technical Support: 4 Tips for Getting Hired at Elastic from Support Director Heidi Sager
Heidi Sager loves math, but she also loves working with people.
She always has, which is why she enjoyed her part-time job working at the IT department of the University of Colorado while she was studying electrical engineering. (She'd started in computer science, but explains that it "wasn't for her" and switched her major.) She helped students and professors with word processors, basic programming, and software checkout, and took a full-time job after graduation as a UNIX system administrator.
Working at Relativity—the global tech company that equips legal and compliance professionals with a powerful data-organizing and discovery platform—looked different in 2020. The highly collaborative environment of their Chicago headquarters transitioned to a virtual setting, and just like companies around the country, Relativity adapted their goals and major projects to a completely remote environment.
Diversity Reboot 2021: The One Hundred Day Kickoff<p><strong>When</strong>: February 1-5, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free!</p><p><strong>Where to register: </strong><a href="https://summit.powertofly.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>We had to include our own Diversity Reboot on our list of the best diversity and inclusion events to attend in 2021 because we know firsthand how the quality of 100+ expert speakers, the enthusiasm of 10,000 participants, and the cutting-edge tech that enables meaningful virtual networking and job fairs combine to create a truly epic five-day experience. This year, the theme 100 Day Kickoff harnesses the energy of the new government's first 100 days in office to help jump-start personal and professional plans to build more diverse and inclusive workplaces. </p><p>Following the February summit, we'll have a monthly series of smaller virtual summits on topics spanning everything from returnships to LGBTQ+ advocacy, so be sure to stay tuned for updates!<br></p>
The Future of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 2021<p><strong>When</strong>: February 3-4, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hr.com/en/webcasts_events/virtual_events/upcoming_virtual_events/the-future-of-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-2021_kcxf8glq.html#detail" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This virtual conference put on by HR.com focuses on how social movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter have pushed DEI at work beyond legal compliance and into a major factor of any company or brand's culture, employee engagement, and performance. Topics include how to uncover and resolve pay gaps across your team and hire top-level diverse talent.</p>
Workplace Revolution: From Talk to Collective Action<p><strong>When</strong>: March 8-12, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register: </strong>$820</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://cvent.me/ZQ4BbE" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>The Forum on Workplace Inclusion's 33rd annual conference includes 12 session tracks, from DEI Strategy to Social Responsibility, along with 59 workshops and daily networking sessions. This year's theme focuses on one question: "What will it take to start a workplace revolution that moves us from talk to action?"</p>
Diversity: How Employers Can Match Words With Deeds<p><strong>When</strong><strong>: </strong>May 19, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register</strong><strong>: </strong>Early bird registration is $49 and general admission is $149</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://hopin.com/events/may-virtual-conference-diversity-how-employers-can-match-words-with-deeds" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Here</a></p><p>From Day One is hosting monthly conferences in 2021 focused on different ways for companies to foster strong relationships with their customers, communities, and employees. May's half-day virtual event is focused specifically on how companies can make diversity promises that don't fall flat and features workshops, panels, and a fireside chat.</p>
Hire with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion<p><strong>When:</strong> August 18, 2021</p><p><strong>Where: </strong>Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register: </strong>$195</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hci.org/conferences/2021-virtual-conference-hire-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-august-18-2021" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This conference put on by the Human Capital Institute is one of 12 virtual conferences that HCI has planned for 2021. This one focuses on fair and inclusive talent acquisition, including how to attract diverse talent, implement inclusive hiring practices, and addressing bias in employee selection. Other conferences will focus on optimizing talent strategy, engaging employees, and developing your workforce.</p>
Virtual Grace Hopper Celebration 2021<p><strong>When:</strong> September 26-29, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual, broadcast from Chicago, Illinois</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Was $799 for regular access to the virtual conference in 2020; 2021 pricing hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://ghc.anitab.org/attend/registration/" target="_blank">Here</a>, though 2021 registration wasn't live at the time of writing</p><p>Grace Hopper might be the best-known conference for women in tech. Through keynote presentations, networking sessions, job fairs, and community-building activities, vGHC reached over 30,000 women for their 2020 conference and are expecting even more in 2021! While not a conference focused exclusively on diversity and inclusion, many speakers plan to focus their talks on creating environments for women to thrive in the male-dominated tech field.</p>
Inclusion 2021<p><strong>When:</strong> October 25-27, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual and in person in Austin, Texas as of now</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register: </strong><a href="https://conferences.shrm.org/inclusion" target="_blank">Here</a>, though 2021 registration wasn't live at the time of writing</p><p>The Society for Human Resource Management's biggest conference of the year saw 1,200 DEI leaders participate last year; SHRM hopes to see even more come to learn, be inspired, and to walk away with a playbook of implementable strategies to create truly inclusive workplace cultures.</p>
AfroTech 2021<p><strong></strong><strong>When:</strong> November 8-13, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Early bird pricing is $149 for individuals and $249 for corporate attendees; regular pricing hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://experience.afrotech.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>AfroTech is a conference hosted by Blavity, a tech media platform for Black millennials. It focuses on emerging tech trends, connecting Black talent with top tech recruiters, and providing networking and educational opportunities, with an overall goal of building a strong Black tech community. Over 10,000 people participated in 2020. While the conference isn't focused specifically on DEI, its main audience of Black tech talent is an important one to understand and to engage at work and beyond, and several speakers plan to focus on issues of race and inclusion at work. </p>
A Conversation with Vouch's Lead Designer Carrie Phillips