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Company Culture

Closing For 6 Days: Here’s Why We’re Taking The Last Week Of The Year Off As A Company

The end of the year is a wonderful time to focus on reflection and self-care.

These are things we’ve been very mindful of at Buffer in the past few years. Everything from encouraging more vacation time to having summer hours have been top of mind for us in creating a company focused on healthy and happy employees.

Often times the year flies by so quickly that people don’t take enough vacation time and then the holidays with all the shopping and travel involved sneak up on them. It’s really a recipe for stress.

In trying to make the end of the year less stressful and more peaceful, we’re experimenting with closing Buffer down for the second ever time.


We’re “Closing” Buffer for 6 Days

We’re excited to try “closing” Buffer from December 25th through January 1st to encourage reflection, unplugging, time with family and friends, or doing whatever brings our team joy and peace.

We experimented successfully in 2016 with two team-wide days off at the end of the (Western) year, and this year we’re leaning further into this time off with six days.

You might be wondering how we can close Buffer when we don’t have an office. Well, we can all close our laptops and spend time away from the tools we use like Slack, Discourse, and Helpscout.


Photo by Tim Mossholder

Why Close Down at the End of the Year?

As we’re a global company with many cultures and customs, no one holiday will likely apply to everyone on the team. Closing at the end of the year does not mean that our team has to celebrate Christmas/Boxing Day/Western New Years/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa to take part; this is a company-wide initiative that applies to everyone equally!

The end of the year is really the perfect time to make this happen for a few great reasons.

1. The holidays are already a slow time

The internet is just slower around the end of the year and the holidays. In fact, the 25th of December is consistently Buffer’s slowest day with 38.4% fewer posts sent via Buffer. If our customers are offline recharging, why not take advantage of the downtime to do the same for our team?

2. Vacations are good for the company and the team

Research shows that vacations can cut the risk of heart disease by 50 percent for men and 30 percent for women, of course, this is only if people take more than one vacation a year. Not only that, but studies show that people who take vacations are more efficient than those who don’t, so businesses should want their employees to rest and take time off.

3. We’re creating a culture of rest and self-care

The past few years we’ve been keen to encourage more time off for our employees. It’s really easy as a growing company and a remote team to get used to not taking time off, but that’s not a sustainable model nor the kind of company we are building.

In 2016, we created a minimum vacation instead of an unlimited vacation, and just in 2017 that policy has helped encourage Buffer employees to take much more time off. The average at Buffer is now 18.2 days per year.

We still have people who haven’t taken very much time off, though, and we’d like to continue to create a culture where we encourage rest, self-care, and vacations at Buffer. Our strategy here is closing down the company office so nobody feels obligated to work and everyone gets an extra 6 days this year.

How Will Buffer Continue to Operate?

Last year with only two days off, there were not too many logistics involved. This year, six days is a bit more of a leap and we’re still eager to make it work.

Since this six-day span is a longer period than last year’s, some areas will need to have an on-call schedule and some teammates will need to check in to make sure nothing has gone horribly wrong while we’re all offline. (Though we don’t expect it to!)

The two teams that are on call over the week off are Advocacy and Engineering. To be clear – neither of the teams are working over the six-day period, but rather each day one teammate from each team will check in on inboxes and systems to make sure that there aren’t any emergencies.

We’ll have lots of messaging around this time to make sure customers know what is going on. There will be an auto-response email to customers, a pinned tweet on our account, and a banner in the help section of our website.

The 2nd of January, the first day we’re all back, we’re also asking the whole team at Buffer to jump into the inboxes and Reply to help bring down the number of tickets that will have been created over the break.

Many of our teams at Buffer are also working in 6-week cycles and this close down is happening right in the middle of one of the cycles. We knew that well in advance and planned the cycle that falls during this closure with the six days off in mind.

Over to You

We’re really excited to close down Buffer for six whole days this year! This is the kind of company practice we’d love to continue refining every year so we can get even better at it in the future. We’d love to hear from you!

  • Does your company close down at the end of the year? For how long?
  • Do you think it’s a good idea to take the last week of the year off?
  • Anything you’d improve on? We’d love to hear your suggestions!

Photo by Tim Tiedemann

  • Natalia

    A well-deserved break! And as you say, there will be team members checking there are no emergencies or tech issues so it’s not as if you’re doing a ninja-style exit 😅 We’re in hospitality so this time of the year is super super busy, but we close on Christmas, NY day and 2/1 and open only for the evening on Boxing Day and 3/2 to give the team a well-deserved break as well. Team care is essential. Happy break, Buffer Team 🖤

    • Thanks, @natt_andra:disqus! How interesting that for your industry it’s quite busy! We definitely see the opposite. I hope you still got plenty of time to rest! <3

  • This is an amazing idea and, I’m sure, something your employees are looking forward to! At my previous job, we were given the last week off mostly due to the fact that I worked at a college that also had off during that time, so campus was slow. My current company has unlimited vacation, but we are not given the last week off.

    As a social media and community manager (team of 1!) it’s difficult to have time to turn off and not having holidays off to “take a break” is really taking it’s toll on my stress levels. I think this is a spectacular idea and wonderful for your employees to take some time to sit back and relax. 🤗 Hope the team has a wonderful break!

    • Thanks so much for reading, @jessiedeschane:disqus ! That’s a great point about colleges likely giving people the time off. I totally know what you mean about how it’s hard to take time off as a team of 1. Hope you had a great break too!

  • Yes our company is taking the entire week off as well. There are some things that we can’t control like our organic traffic and the lead flow from it but for the most part the everyone will be off, however, we will have a couple office staff coming in for a few hours. Culture is key and very important its great to see that as well in Buffer

    • Very happy to hear that, @disqus_QeG9yE51fh:disqus! Definitely important to our culture to have lots of rest. Though we did also have a few engineers and advocates who checked in for a few hours as well. Hope you enjoyed the time off!

  • Vasu padmanaban

    Wow, Kudos to the buffer team. I really loved the concern for employees in these lines – “holidays with all the shopping and travel involved sneak up on them. It’s really a recipe for stress.”

    You are transforming as an excellent example for start ups to follow.

    Love you Buffer and your team. Heartfelt appreciation to the team who has initiated this holiday.

    Enjoy team!!!

    • Thank you so much for the kind words! This was a great initiative from the People team. :) Hope you had a great holiday as well!

  • Michela Marini

    We don’t “close” but we advise our team members to take that time off. To those who decide to work, we make sure to set the right expectations — i.e. don’t expect a response, don’t send urgent messages as most colleagues will be OOO, don’t work on tasks that require collaboration, etc…

  • Kindrick Weatherbee

    Great read! as I have read in the Consumer Health Digest that having to have a long breaks on work can help a person off from being burned out. This means an increase of productivity for an employee

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