Taking a month off

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I’m taking the entire month of August off. Unpaid leave.

It’s not the first time in my life I’ve taken unpaid leave…it will be the third in fact! The first was in December 2012 / January 2013; I took two months off to visit my father in Mexico (Monterrey), spend time with my mother in the American Midwest, and visit a friend in the state of Colorado (USA). The second was in February / March 2016; after the drollest of invitations, I hightailed it to Alexandria, Virginia, USA, where I spent two months living with my beloved friend from my undergraduate years, Meg. Needless to say, we had an absolute blast.

This time? I’ll be striving to be as present as possible with my 3-year-old niece (Céleste), who has travelled all the way to the U.S. state of Iowa from France to spend time with her grandmother (LaLa), her aunty (VaVa – that’s me!) and other relatives in the region. (Interesting fact --> Did you know that France’s flag and Iowa’s flag are eerily similar?)

So. Would you like to hear more about this month off that I will be taking? And how and why I’m doing it…via unpaid leave to boot? (And potentially even how this relates to you?!)

Well, there were actually three separate ideas that all collapsed into one…one day when I was taking a walk, here in Dubuque, Iowa, USA, early in July. Here are the three ideas – at the point when they were separate entities:

1. As I mentioned above, my vivacious niece (Céleste) is currently in the American Midwest! She arrived Tuesday evening (26th July), and will stay here until she flies back to France on Monday, 15th August. Early in July, I had been thinking about what my true desire was when it came to her coming…and that was to be off of work completely for the entirety of her time here, so that I would be able to be fully present with her. (She’s growing up so fast!) I was mindful, however, that given that we are a start-up here at Growmotely and given that we are in our early days as a company – and given that I haven’t yet been with the company for a full year yet – it didn’t really feel good (nor right) to take so much paid time off just yet. (Because as you may or may not remember, we do in fact have an unlimited leave policy here at Growmotely!)

2. In a different conversation I had been having with my team lead, Theodora, we had noticed recently that there was a glitch in the calculation of my remuneration – a calculation we had done back in November when I had joined Growmotely – and we were steadfastly looking into that and looking for ways to ‘get it corrected’ in a way that worked well for everyone involved. Also, at one point, I noticed that the accumulated amount that Growmotely owed me because of this glitch was about the same amount that Growmotely pays me (gross) in a month.

3. As I mentioned above, I had taken two periods of unpaid leave in my adult working life – one in 2012 / 2013 and one in 2016 – and had enjoyed them immensely. On both occasions, cash flow was temporarily tight at the company I was working at, and I therefore offered to ‘go away’ for a couple of months, which the owners were very grateful for as it helped out their cash flow situation. Win-win. I began to wonder if potentially Growmotely might find some extra cash to be useful given our infancy as a company.

At one point on the walk that I was referring to earlier, all three separate ideas collapsed into one, and I thought: “Oh! Perhaps I could take the month of August off so that I can focus on Céleste; I could do it via unpaid leave so as to inject the company with a little extra cash; they could then pay me what they owe me for that month that I’m off, so that they don’t need to pay me more than what they might otherwise in any given month.”

It seemed like this idea just might – indeed – be a win-win.

Later, I wrote out my vision in an email to Theodora; she came back to me – after speaking with our CEO Sarah Hawley – and gave me the green light to move forward on this ‘leave project’. Yay!

As my other-than-conscious – and conscious! – mind started making plans for passing over and / or renegotiating the work that I was meant to do in August, I started to think about how to reimagine this month in a way that would see my colleagues not having to bear all the weight of the work that I would have done had I not been away.

How might, for example, we reimagine our weekly newsletter, Explore (you can sign up here, BTW!), during the month of August, given that we will be one (wo)man down?

My team members and I threw around a few ideas in our team meetings, and we ultimately came up with a few key possibilities:

  • We could send out some ‘light’ versions of Explore – so newsletters that are not quite as ‘meaty’ as usual!
  • We could delegate the writing of the blog articles to some new voices across the company…!
  • We could re-feature some articles in Explore from Growmotely’s earlier days…and give our readers a chance to catch up on anything that they may have potentially missed if – as is true probably for most readers – they had not been with us ‘from the beginning’. ✨

“What will happen when I’m back?” is another question that floated to the surface. Any interest in hearing the answer?

Well, it’s never possible to know for sure what the future holds, but I suspect I will be a new woman, after having logged lots of time with my beloved niece, and I will perhaps regale you with stories from the swimming pool and various parks! (There is nothing that Céleste loves more than playing at parks, mind you.) And these will all be stories relating to the Future of Work…of course. 😎

And as I’ve found from past experiences when I have taken a healthy amount of leave, I will most likely return with a fresh coat of paint on myself on the idea front, as I know for me, that I typically have my best work ideas when I am away from my computer.

So that is the plan thus far! 💫

Now. Why did I share all of this with you? 

Well, here at Growmotely, we don’t necessarily have all the answers to all the problems that are encountered in the workplace, however, we are teeming with curiosity when it comes to how to solve various problems that crop up in our work lives. (I’ll remind you that one of our five company values is ‘Stay curious, stay open‘.) We managed to create a pretty cool, life-affirming solution in this case, and so I wanted to share it with you.

For us, we see the Future of Work as a place where we don’t rigidly adhere to the structures and tools that have been passed down to us; rather, with curiosity, we explore and stay open to new, unique and customized solutions that benefit all parties. Even – or maybe especially? – if they are a little uncommon.

We would love for you to join us in this Future of Work! (And: I will look forward to crafting articles for you all – once again – when I return in September!) 🍂

Written by: Vanessa Kettner (Growmotely’s Creative Writer and your Remote Work Cupid)
Dedicated to: Theodora Gatin –> Thank you for being my ‘partner-in-crime’ regarding creating this beautiful solution here. 🙏🏻

P.S. If you’re in love with what we’re creating in the world, and are keen to invest in our efforts, click here to learn more about our Republic Crowdfunding Campaign. ✨

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2 thoughts on “Taking a month off

  1. Adriana says:

    I’m sure you’ll enjoy your time off Vanessa guapa! See you in September with a renewed bright energy flow 💓💫

  2. Nayeli says:

    Yeah!! What beautiful news! I’m so happy for you and growmotely can give you that’s an opportunity, it’s like a big hug. I’m sure your back will be a fresh restart.

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