Forcing your employees to unplug for a week is harder (and easier) than it looks

Scheduling a week off for the whole company to unplug got popular in the first two years of the pandemic. But is it right for your company?

Inflatable palm tree in an office.

Scheduling a companywide week off has stuck around as one of the tech industry’s favorite pandemic-born wellness trends.

Photo: Jetta Productions/Walter Hodges via Getty Images

Call it a recharge week, a wellness week or collective leave: Scheduling a companywide week off has stuck around as one of the tech industry’s favorite pandemic-born wellness trends. With everyone offline at once, employees get to unplug without experiencing Slack FOMO.

A synchronized week off wouldn’t work everywhere: Just ask execs at fast-scaling startups. How do you know if it would work for your team, and if it would, how do you implement it well?

Growing too fast to slow down

“I haven’t even broached the subject with our founders,” said Amy Zimmerman, chief people officer at the logistics fintech startup Relay Payments. “I feel pretty confident that they would agree that it’s not a thing that we’re going to do at this point.”

Companies in “hyper-growth mode” like Relay may not be able to afford to leave customers in the lurch for a week. The 130-person company started the year with just one product on the market, Zimmerman said, but has aspirations to go to market with multiple new products and expand to 300 employees by the end of the year.

Twitch and Hootsuite, two more-mature companies that started offering a synchronized week off during the pandemic, address this staffing problem by keeping a core group of employees on call or on the clock during that week. That skeleton crew takes its week off at a different time so that customers and vendors aren’t left hanging.

At Hootsuite, this worked well enough last summer that the social media management company is planning its second Wellness Week in late August, so that its North American employees can tack on Labor Day at the end of it.

“We gave our customers the heads up. We gave our stakeholders and vendors [warning] so that everybody knew that we were going off beforehand,” said Tara Ataya, Hootsuite’s chief people officer. It was worth it: 97% of Hootsuite employees said being able to disconnect at the same time as their colleagues was valuable.

How to plan for a week off

The toughest part of implementing the week off is planning for it, Ataya said. Hootsuite leaders looked at every week they were considering to make sure they wouldn’t be missing a deadline, which could leave some employees or teams feeling like they couldn’t take that time off.

Hootsuite executives started discussing their first July Wellness Week during the first quarter of last year, and publicized it in March 2021 so that employees, customers and vendors had a few months’ notice, Ataya said.

“It’s a really important piece to consider if companies are thinking about doing this: just making sure you give everybody enough time in advance,” Ataya said. “Also just from a personal standpoint, so that people can actually use the week and do something that matters.”

Now that Hootsuite has all the materials and communications set up, Ataya expects that the Wellness Week will require much less planning this year.

Both Twitch and Hubspot also decided to offer a week off in July. Spring and summer proved to be a popular time to schedule a synchronized break last year, and a number of companies already offer a week off around the winter holidays, either officially or unofficially.

Bumble offers two company-wide weeks off per year. LinkedIn has given its U.S. employees a week off in July and a week off in December for years, and added a third “RestUp” week last April, “during the height of the pandemic,” but decided not to take another week off this spring.

“RestUp! Week came at a time when we needed it most,” LinkedIn’s vice president of global talent, Nina McQueen, told Protocol in an email. “Although we have no plans to add a RestUp! Week in 2022, we still have our two paid shutdowns in July and December and will continue to explore ways to support employees.”

That could include half-day Fridays in July and August in addition to LinkedIn’s periodic no-meeting days, according to McQueen.

How do synchronized weeks off affect PTO?

Companies that offer a synchronized week off are quick to point out that they also offer traditional (or, more often in tech, unlimited) vacation policies that aren’t affected by these shutdown weeks.

“We actually do encourage employees to take time off in addition to the time off that we’re providing for the synchronous time off,” said Lauren Nunes, chief people officer at Twitch. “Our philosophy is that you need to figure out what’s best for you, and take that time off.”

Hootsuite’s vacation policy starts at four weeks per year, and Twitch, Bumble, Hubspot and LinkedIn all offer unlimited PTO in addition to their synchronized weeks off. Still, it’s easy to imagine that employees (or managers) might schedule less PTO as a result.

And for companies, maybe that’s part of the appeal. But for some HR executives, that’s one downside to the practice of offering a synchronized week off: Employees may feel discouraged from planning time off on their own timelines.

Coinbase, for example, now offers four recharge weeks per year, and encourages employees to keep their vacation time within those weeks. (Though, the company said when it announced the policy in January, “we know that’s not always possible, and that’s OK.”)

“That may or may not sit well with employees, because people want to have the flexibility to take time off when they truly need it, not being told to take time off,” said Gia Ganesh, the vice president of People and Culture at Florence Healthcare.

Florence offers unlimited vacation with a three-week minimum, but decided against offering a synchronized week off, Ganesh said. Although she sees the benefits to having the whole company unplug at once, Ganesh said that for Florence, a recharge week wouldn’t give employees anything they don’t already have.

Really, that’s the key when it comes to deciding whether it’s worth it to offer a benefit like this, Ataya said.

“First, listen to your people and figure out if this is what they need,” Ataya said. “Leaning in and actually having that conversation with your people is really important first.”


The minerals we need to save the planet are getting way too expensive

Supply chain problems and rising demand have sent prices spiraling upward for the minerals and metals essential for the clean energy transition.

Critical mineral prices have exploded over the past year.

Photo: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The newest source of the alarm bells echoing throughout the renewables industry? Spiking critical mineral and metal prices.

According to a new report from the International Energy Agency, a maelstrom of rising demand and tattered supply chains have caused prices for the materials needed for clean energy technologies to soar in the last year. And this increase has only accelerated since 2022 began.

Keep Reading Show less
Lisa Martine Jenkins

Lisa Martine Jenkins is a senior reporter at Protocol covering climate. Lisa previously wrote for Morning Consult, Chemical Watch and the Associated Press. Lisa is currently based in Brooklyn, and is originally from the Bay Area. Find her on Twitter ( @l_m_j_) or reach out via email (

Sponsored Content

Why the digital transformation of industries is creating a more sustainable future

Qualcomm’s chief sustainability officer Angela Baker on how companies can view going “digital” as a way not only toward growth, as laid out in a recent report, but also toward establishing and meeting environmental, social and governance goals.

Three letters dominate business practice at present: ESG, or environmental, social and governance goals. The number of mentions of the environment in financial earnings has doubled in the last five years, according to GlobalData: 600,000 companies mentioned the term in their annual or quarterly results last year.

But meeting those ESG goals can be a challenge — one that businesses can’t and shouldn’t take lightly. Ahead of an exclusive fireside chat at Davos, Angela Baker, chief sustainability officer at Qualcomm, sat down with Protocol to speak about how best to achieve those targets and how Qualcomm thinks about its own sustainability strategy, net zero commitment, other ESG targets and more.

Keep Reading Show less
Chris Stokel-Walker

Chris Stokel-Walker is a freelance technology and culture journalist and author of "YouTubers: How YouTube Shook Up TV and Created a New Generation of Stars." His work has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian and Wired.


The 911 system is outdated. Updating it to the cloud is risky.

Unlike tech companies, emergency services departments can’t afford to make mistakes when migrating to the cloud. Integrating new software in an industry where there’s no margin for error is risky, and sometimes deadly.

In an industry where seconds can mean the difference between life and death, many public safety departments are hesitant to take risks on new cloud-based technologies.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Dialing 911 could be the most important phone call you will ever make. But what happens when the software that’s supposed to deliver that call fails you? It may seem simple, but the technology behind a call for help is complicated, and when it fails, deadly.

The infrastructure supporting emergency contact centers is one of the most critical assets for any city, town or local government. But just as the pandemic exposed the creaky tech infrastructure that runs local governments, in many cases the technology in those call centers is outdated and hasn’t been touched for decades.

Keep Reading Show less
Aisha Counts

Aisha Counts (@aishacounts) is a reporter at Protocol covering enterprise software. Formerly, she was a management consultant for EY. She's based in Los Angeles and can be reached at


'The Wilds' is a must-watch guilty pleasure and more weekend recs

Don’t know what to do this weekend? We’ve got you covered.

Our favorite things this week.

Illustration: Protocol

The East Coast is getting a little preview of summer this weekend. If you want to stay indoors and beat the heat, we have a few suggestions this week to keep you entertained, like a new season of Amazon Prime’s guilty-pleasure show, “The Wilds,” a new game from Horizon Worlds that’s fun for everyone and a sneak peek from Adam Mosseri into what Instagram is thinking about Web3.

Keep Reading Show less
Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.


Work expands to fill the time – but only if you let it

The former Todoist productivity expert drops time-blocking tips, lofi beats playlists for concentrating and other knowledge bombs.

“I do hope the productivity space as a whole is more intentional about pushing narratives that are about life versus just work.”

Photo: Courtesy of Fadeke Adegbuyi

Fadeke Adegbuyi knows how to dole out productivity advice. When she was a marketing manager at Doist, she taught users via blogs and newsletters about how to better organize their lives. Doist, the company behind to-do-list app Todoist and messaging app Twist, has pushed remote and asynchronous work for years. Adegbuyi’s job was to translate these ideas to the masses.

“We were thinking about asynchronous communication from a work point of view, of like: What is most effective for doing ambitious and awesome work, and also, what is most advantageous for living a life that feels balanced?” Adegbuyi said.

Keep Reading Show less
Lizzy Lawrence

Lizzy Lawrence ( @LizzyLaw_) is a reporter at Protocol, covering tools and productivity in the workplace. She's a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied sociology and international studies. She served as editor in chief of The Michigan Daily, her school's independent newspaper. She's based in D.C., and can be reached at

Latest Stories