I write this post as I sit in our Buenos Aires hotel, having just kicked off the start of our three month sabbatical. But what is a sabbatical?
a period of time when college or university teachers are allowed to stop their usual work in order to study or travel, usually while continuing to be paid.
Hang on now – paid?? Well, we got it partly right but we’re not teachers and we’re not getting paid while we’re away. We are having three months off work for our honeymoon though and I can imagine a lot of people sat at their desks wondering how we managed to pull that one off.
The short answer is if you don’t ask, you don’t get – but if you do ask there are a few things that I’d recommend doing:
- Check your company policy
As it happens neither mine or Sue’s company had a sabbatical policy, however, there are many companies out there who provide this as an automatic reward after a certain period of service. Make sure you know whether there is precedent for this.
- Time the question right
Think about the request in the context of your boss’ shoes – are you in the midst of a mammoth project or about to take on extra responsibilities. It’s common sense but just think about that timing.
- Think about the benefits from both sides
Build the business case – there are always benefits on both sides, don’t forget to not just think about yourself. Will it give them chance to give someone else a development opportunity or bring in some external expertise?
- Think about the solutions to challenges
Inevitably there will be challenges that need overcoming – some of which can be dealt with by considering the best timing, others will need more creative thought. Be part of the problem solving though as otherwise you’re just creating more work for your boss.
- Be flexible
Be prepared to be flexible – this could be in relation to the timing of your sabbatical, length of the sabbatical or something altogether different. Remember – is it worth losing the sabbatical completely because your boss wants you to leave a week later than you were hoping?
- Give lots of notice
The right amount of time will depend on the length of your trip and other circumstances at work. We left in November but first mentioned it at work in around April. I think the absolute minimum should be at least the amount of time you are going away for (e.g. three months before going away for three months) but the more time you give, the more time there is to solve any issues that might arise.