If you’re an employed office worker, you’d likely to have noticed that you and your colleagues have not taken much annual leave over the past 12¬ to 18 months. The pandemic has not only made travel next to impossible but the flexibility of working from home has also allowed us to attend personal appointments around our work schedules without need to take a full day off.
Hence, for many of us, taking annual leave simply hasn’t seemed worthwhile and this is especially true for those who have lived under lockdown. We’ve been accruing hours and hours of annual leave while churning through our work non-stop. According to data released in May this year by market research company Roy Morgan, we Aussies have now banked up 175 million days of annual leave compared with 151 million days in early 2020.1 That’s an increase of 23 million extra days over a year.
It’s easy to forget that annual leave policies aren’t primarily designed for holidays or life admin, they are designed to prevent us from becoming exhausted and burnt out. After all, no one can work non-stop and stay productive. Like our smartphones, we can’t function if we don’t give ourselves time to recharge.
While working from home has its benefits with the most obvious being the ability to accommodate childcare and avoid busy commutes, these benefits have been seemingly replaced by new stresses and expectations. Zoom fatigue and skipped lunches are real. What’s more worrying is that working from home seems to have also obliterated our work-life balance by creating longer working hours and increasing pressure to stay connected to our computers.
We know enough from our experience and recent sleep surveys that without enough sleep, our ability to innovate, be creative, and make good decisions disappears.2 It may seem obvious, but just as athletes depend on recovery routines to perform on game day, proper rest is fundamental for all employees in all industries to perform at their best.
As a company that understands how important rest is for our mental and physical wellbeing, we have decided to give our staff a company rest day this year (November 29th globally and December 6th in ANZ). As well as rewarding them for their outstanding efforts in navigating the new challenges handed to them by the pandemic, this initiative also allows us to live up to our brand by empowering people to awaken their best.
For us, rest is the most valuable thing any company can offer its staff. Our hope is to set a precedent in how we all adapt to the new ways of working in this pandemic age. The key message we want everyone to take away is that time away from our desks is just as important as the time we spend there.
If the pandemic should teach us anything, it’s that our health should take priority over everything else. Some of us may now be working harder than ever. If that sounds like you, we suggest taking some time off, even if it is just a day, to reset your work-life balance. None of us are entirely immune from the impacts of COVID-19. The goal is to take a break before we break.
ResMed is a global leader in sleep technology that has its origins right here in Australia. Our goal is to provide people with the means to awaken their best and enjoy healthier lives by promoting good sleep habits and creating awareness for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
1 Roy Morgan (Australia), April 2019 – March 2021, Roy Morgan, accessed 1 October 1999, www.roymorgan.com/findings/8696-annual-leave-holidays-march-2021-202105170711
2 Atomik Research. "The ResMed Sleep Health Survey." Survey. 4-6 Sep. 2019.
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