Earlier today, I bought a plane ticket. This is a ticket that will have me flying from Chicago to Paris on Sunday, 15th May, and returning via the same route on Wednesday, 1st June. I’ll be travelling with my mother.
Exactly three weeks ago, I bought a different plane ticket – this time flying west to Los Angeles. CID --> ORD --> LAX on the way over (Wednesday, 27th April); LAX --> PHX --> CID on the way back (Wednesday, 4th May). Travelling solo for this one. (I’ll be hitting up my 20-year college / uni reunion!)
I didn’t ask anybody at Growmotely for permission before I bought these plane tickets.
But why not? How could that be? Shouldn’t I have run it by my team lead at the very least? Or: made sure that me changing locations or taking holiday wasn’t going to create any problems for the team? Would you like the short answer? It’s ‘Nope.’ Interested in the longer answer? Keep on reading…
The reason I didn’t ask for permission – or run it by anyone on my team – before booking these flights is because I haven’t decided yet if I will be taking days off. You see, just simply changing locations is not synonymous with taking holiday when you work remotely for a global team that is committed to asynchronous working. When you work remotely, it doesn’t matter where your body is; location of your person (in the geographical sense) has nothing to do (generally-speaking) with your ability to get your work done. This is why Carlos is in Europe (and not Mexico) at the moment and why our CFO, Apple, was on the island of Boracay (in the Philippines) last month – instead of Manila, where she typically resides.
Mind you, there were some people with whom I consulted before I bought these plane tickets. I consulted with my boyfriend (he won’t be joining me on either trip, but I wanted to run the dates by him); I consulted with my sister and her family (this is who I will be visiting in France); and I consulted with my “California mother” (this is who I will be staying with for a portion of my stay in Los Angeles County). It’s not that I don’t like to consult; on the contrary – you can see that I do! It’s simply of no relevance (on the getting work done front) to my team members at Growmotely when it comes to the location of my person, because it doesn’t have any bearing on our capacity to deliver our work to a high standard.
What if I choose to take some time off during these two trips? Then, surely, I need to ask for permission then? Nope. Keep reading.
Here at Growmotely, one of our values is ‘Empowerment and ownership’ and in this vein, what we agree, is that we each are able to take as much holiday / vacation / leave as we like – we simply need to make sure the work gets done. So, for example, if I would like to take leave during my time in California and / or France, what I will need to do is come up with a plan to get my work done despite me ‘being away’. This might include me putting in some extra hours ahead of my days off to make sure all my work is done – or it could mean that I arrange for a different team member to cover my responsibilities during my absence. Or a mixture of the two. But, ultimately, what it means is that I am responsible for making decisions about my time off and I am responsible for me – or someone else – delivering on all commitments that are in my bailiwick.
Does this sound like a dream come true? Well, it is. And here’s the interesting part. It’s not just a dream come true for professionals. It’s a dream come true for managers and team leads as well. But how could that be? Shouldn’t it be terrifying for managers to ‘let go’ of this ‘power’? Not really. Let me take you to our Founder and CEO Sarah Hawley’s lightbulb moment around this…
In her book ‘Conscious Leadership: A Journey from Ego to Heart’, Sarah writes about her ‘aha moment’: “Someone in the team had sent me an email asking if they could take a day off to attend an important event at their son’s school. Reading the email, I instantly felt how strange it was for a grown woman to be asking my permission to take some time out. A grown woman with a child no less – someone who’s potentially far more responsible than I am! Along with how absurd it felt, I also really didn’t have the time or energy to think about whether she could take the time off or not. It didn’t feel like a decision I wanted to make. Or needed to make.”
Returning the decision-making to its proper owner, not only makes more sense, it also does away with the parent-child dynamics that these outdated traditional hierarchical models can (unwittingly) create. How in the world would Sarah be in a better position to grant said day off than the person who was asking for it? The person who knew just exactly how important this event of her son’s was, and also the person who knew her own workload intimately?
Here at Growmotely, we don’t ‘ask permission’ before we buy plane tickets to travel to places for reasons that are important to us. We just do it. And then we make sure that we’ve come up with – and communicated to the relevant people – a plan to cover any work that needs to get done if we decide to take leave. We see the Future of Work as a place where the policies and structures that are in place support us in living lives that are aligned with our values – rather than having policies and structures in place that prevent us from living lives that are fully aligned with our values, which as it turns out, is the case in many traditional workplaces.
We would love for you to book your ticket to join us. And remember: no need to ask permission.
Written by: Vanessa Kettner (Growmotely’s Creative Writer and your Remote Work Cupid)
Dedicated to: My 2-year-old niece, Céleste, who lives in Paris…I can’t wait to see you!
One thought on “I didn’t – and I don’t – ask for permission”
This was an excellent read. Times have changed, leaders should adjust to this shift to recruit and retain top talent. Thank you for sharing this.
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