Richard Branson, self made billionaire and business man extraordinaire has initiated a new staff policy giving his employees unlimited leave. Mr. Branson’s immediate staff of 170 can “take off whenever they want for as long as they want”. Will this innovative idea spark changes in the way people work? Will people be inspired and become more creative? Will people change the way they save money and spend money simply because they are inspired? Who knows what will change because of innovative thinking!
Evidently it was Mr. Branson’s daughter who suggested this unconventional change in policy to her father. She came up with the idea after being inspired by a similar idea that she saw on the online TV website, Netflix. It is, however, not a huge surprise that he took her up on her proposal. Richard Branson is, after all, one of the most unconventional business men to date. From modest beginnings publishing a student magazine, he is now working on Virgin Galactic. This is his vision for a new subsidiary of the Virgin Empire. The idea is to create a tourism agency for outer space. It seems that he also sees fit to extend his eccentric visions to those who work for him.
Employees of Richard Branson now no longer need to submit a request for leave and wait for approval. They don’t have to explain why they need to take time off or give any indication of when they will return. Should one of Branson’s workers desire to take a month or even two months vacation, they can do so when it suits them. The burning question is: How is that going to work? Surely as soon as this new policy takes effect, everyone will jump out of their office chairs and head for the beach. Not so according to the billionaire.
“The assumption being that they are only going to do it when they feel 100% comfortable that they and their team are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business – or, for that matter, their careers!”
The Virgin Empire includes an airline, a recording label, a fitness gym franchise, telecom services and financial services. Presently the Virgin Group has operations in more than 50 different countries employing approximately 50 000 people. Mr. Branson is testing his new theory on his immediate staff but says that if all goes well he will urge all the Virgin subsidiaries to follow suit. He is of the opinion that vacation policies are old fashioned and should be updated to better suit the modern lifestyle. In his opinion policy around leave in the UK and America is particularly “draconian”.
“We should focus on what people get done, not on how many hours or days worked. Just as we don’t have a nine to five policy, we don’t need a vacation policy.” He says.
If there is one notorious person on the planet to pioneer and challenge policy that is outdated and oppressive it would be Richard Branson. After all he has broken through every business frontier he has come up against. It seems the next place we will see his friendly face is in space.