Guide to PTO

Rocket.Chat highly encourages everyone to take some Paid Time Off (PTO) whenever you need it, be it for visiting somewhere new or just taking some time for yourself. Knowing when to rest, stop, and take some time away for yourself or to spend with your loved ones, is an essential part of maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

What are the possible reasons to take a PTO?

There are many of them! You can read PTO as "time for yourself" so:
  • Taking a trip
  • Celebrating family and friends' birthdays
  • Personal reasons you don't want to disclose
  • Mental health moments
  • Doctor appointments
  • Off-time to take care of yourself
  • Sleeping after a tiring night (like after an important release)
  • Chasing hobbies (play piano, learn a language, painting, cooking something)
  • Taking your pet to the vet
  • Camping
  • Maintenance on your computer/internet/something broke down and you need to fix it
  • Movie day with family/friends
  • RPG day with friends
  • Taking a long walk, enjoying nature
  • Going to the mall/park
  • Doing exercises
  • Your birthday (This gives you an automatic PTO for you to celebrate with your loved ones!)
We can’t always plan on our PTOs (if for instance there was an accident), but it’s always good to plan ahead if possible!
If you need to deal with something personal tomorrow, but you know that that will be time consuming, exhausting, and you will need a lot of effort to fulfill that task, you could already ask for a PTO. Also, end of quarters are usually stressful with new releases and closing of quarter for the sales team for example. So, why not take some days off afterwards? Having that defined it's time for the next steps.
If you want a guideline of number of days we advise you to take you can think of 40 days in a year. This number considers vacations and doesn't count sick days, so they can be used for traveling or just taking some time for yourself and looking out for your mental health.�

Then what do I need to do if I want to take a PTO?

First, think about why you're taking the PTO. Is it going to take half a day? Is it a trip somewhere and it will probably be 4 days long (the maximum for PTO)? Make sure you have that cleared on your mind and do step 1:
1- Tell your leader about it.
Something about 5 days before the PTO date would be excellent for longer periods of PTO - such as 4 days -, to have time to plan who will take care of your possible tasks during the time off. But, for smaller periods of PTO, two days or one day before would be sufficient. Then, it's time for step 2, which you may already imagine:
2- Ask for it on Zoho People.
This video tutorial will show you how to request it. The only exception here is your birthday, for which you don't have to ask for the PTO on Zoho, since all Rocketeer birthdays are considered automatic PTOs. If you have a doctor's note / sick leave certificate, please add it in the attachment field in the leave request forms.
After that comes the final and really important step:
3- Plan ahead!
What are the tasks or people that might depend on you during that time? Can you leave the necessary emails already scheduled? Or leave a peer accountable for that while you're gone? Think about these very important details, this way you'll be able to leave without feeling the pressure of having to check-in every other hour.

But what do I do if I need an emergency PTO I didn't see coming?

It's okay! If an unexpected emergency occurs please contact your manager by any means possible and as soon as possible if you will be unavailable or unable to work. This will allow your manager to confirm your safety and reassign any critical work during your absence.
If this situation will probably last for more than just one day, request the following days off on Zoho People like the usual. If you're also unable to do that, just ask someone from the People team and they'll include that PTO on the system for you.

Are there any other hacks and tips I can use when taking a PTO?

YES, THERE ARE! Here are some alternatives you can use to let people know you're off and that will help you leave on your PTO peacefully and with no worries.
  1. 1.
    The /out-of-office Rocket.Chat app: You'll also hear about this one in the Holidays and Vacations page, but whenever you're off you can activate this app that creates an automatic message on your dm chat to let your coworkers know about it if they try to message you. You can activate it by sending this in any chat on open: /out-of-office out <automatic message you'll leave> And when you come back just write: /out-of-office in.
  2. 2.
    Google Calendar out of office: After the PTO has been approved, update your own calendar using Google's "out of office" feature and include the dates you plan to be away in your automated response. Note that this feature will automatically decline any meeting invitations during the time frame you select.
  3. 3.
    Turn off push notifications: For some of us push notifications and rest don't really go will together because it's natural that when we see a message we'll want to help and that will cause us to worry during our time off. If you want to respond during your PTO it's okay, that is your choice! But if you want to fully have those days for yourself you can feel free to turn off the app notifications on your phone.

What to do and what not to do regarding PTO?

  • What to do
  1. 1.
    At Rocket.Chat, we strongly encourage taking PTOs. Making sure you are not overloaded, taking enough time to rest and taking care of yourself is an important part of having a healthy relationship with your work and achieving a work-life balance. So the first “to do” is feeling free to take PTOs!
  2. 2.
    A good way to show the wonderful aspects of PTO is to share! So use our #good-vibes channel to share what made you feel happy and well during your PTO! Went camping? Show us some pictures of nature, trees, a fire crackling! Just took half a day off to cook bread and watch soap operas? We would love to see freshly cooked bread and some soap opera recommendations!
  3. 3.
    When you see a colleague is on PTO, instead of sending messages on Rocket.Chat during their time off, schedule them by using the **/sendlater**app! Also, everyone has the /offmessage app automatically enabled in our team, it will tell you whenever you try messaging someone who's either on a holiday or PTO, so try always using it and choose to schedule your messages!
  • What not to do
It’s known that PTOs are a tool to help us on our work-life balance and mental health, right? So the main “not to do” here is: don’t bring up negative comments about peers and colleagues taking PTO, since that doesn’t really represent our beliefs and culture of trusting each other. We all have our own pace and personal situations, so we should always treat each other with respect and empathy.

As a leader, what can I do to help my team with this?

You do play an important part in helping your team both take more PTOs and enjoy them fully! So here are some tips for you:
  1. 1.
    Avoid sending that person messages as much as possible! Before reaching out to that person think if anyone else could have that answer or find it for you? Can anyone else deal with that problem for now?
  2. 2.
    If the person doesn't want to tell you much about the reason why they need a PTO don't pressure them. We have personal situations and sometimes we don't feel too comfortable talking about it, so this is a time where you'll need to be very understanding and empathetic!
An optional extra: Take initiative and block that person's calendar on their birthday beforehand! This will help the person know that you're "okay" with them having that time for themselves to celebrate with their family.
A quick guide to PTO!