Richard Branson Unveils New Virgin Unlimited Leave Policy
2 October 2014 by Lawrence Adams
Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has become the latest to embrace the growing trend for flexible working. In a blog post uploaded to the company’s corporate website, Branson explains that his head office staff (around 170 staff in the United Kingdom and the United States) will benefit from a “policy-that-isn’t” when it comes to leave.
The policy was announced alongside Branson’s promotional work for a new autobiography. He writes that the new policy will permit all salaried staff to take off whenever they want for as long as they want.
The idea is nothing new. Branson uses the business model adopted by Netflix to justify his policy. The online streaming giant realised that, in order to get the most out of its workforce, it needed support at all hours of the day, not just during traditional nine-to-five office hours. In that sense, monitoring the amount of hours or days worked became irrelevant. Performance monitoring became much more important to the business.
The aim will be to increase productivity, whilst placing greater trust in employees, allowing them to control their own workload. Employees will need to assess when it would be appropriate to take time off, taking into account the requirements of the business, their teams and any specific projects that they might be working on. The policy could aid certain groups of employees including those who need to balance their working hours with health issues or family commitments.
Whilst Branson explains the Netflix policy to good effect, it is unclear as to how the policy might work outside of the tech industry. What might work for a project-based worker, might not necessarily work for office staff or even directors who’s expertise remain in constant demand.
Tech companies are notorious pioneers of the flexible working approach. Google, Apple, Vodaphone and Yahoo . These companies require employees to make themselves available on short notice to fix problems. Applied outside of this industry, Branson hopes it will bring about a shift in corporate focus. Often employees benchmark themselves in terms of the hours they work. The “Netflix approach” encourages greater focus on what employees get done.
The policy is currently being trialled with United States and United Kingdom workers, although Branson expects that other subsidiaries could adopt the “non-policy” if successful. We are able to offer advice on the various employment policies required by businesses. Contact either Beth Baird (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Lawrence Adams (email@example.com) on 01206 835 230 for further information.
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