Never feel guilty about taking a break

It’s Christmas Eve. A lot of you will be reading this having already begun your well-earned breaks. Many more of you will at your jobs, working hard and looking forward to some rest and revelry over the holidays. But a third group also exists: those of you who are feeling guilty about taking a break.

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You should never feel guilty about taking a break from your work to enjoy some quality time with loved ones and friends. That is especially true during this festive period, but should also apply all year round.

It is why we encourage flexible working at Virgin Management and began experimenting with unlimited leave this year. By treating people as humans, not resources, they will be happier and healthier and therefore perform even better. It’s a theory that has expanded further with the B Team’s 100% Human At Work initiative, where we are looking to develop the best ways for companies to help people reach their highest potential and enjoy a good work-life balance.

I’m often asked if I ever feel guilty when taking time for myself or my family and the answer is always no. My family time recharges my batteries and I often come up with my best ideas on holiday or just after it. The way we are working is changing fast, and  more companies are focusing less on how many hours their staff work or what time they leave the office each day. By working more efficiently, there is no reason why people can’t work less hours and be equally - if not more - effective.

For this to work, good leadership is required. Any manager checking the clock or making their team feel guilty for not working at Christmas should not be managing. A real leader keeps their eyes on the business goal and ultimately if people are working toward that greater goal, it shouldn’t matter if they need to take time for themselves too.

Image by Alexandra Prebble

What’s more, you also never know when or where inspiration might hit you – it might be while playing games with your kids on Christmas Day, having a stroll with your in-laws on Boxing Day, or out celebrating with your friends on New Year’s Eve. You have a better chance of coming up with your next great idea or a solution to a problem when you are relaxed than when stuck at a desk. Happy Christmas everyone.


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