Insights from Our Office TED News

Why TED takes two weeks off every summer

Why_we_close_983pxTED.com is about to go quiet for two weeks. No new TED Talks will be posted on the web until Monday, July 10, 2017, while most of the TED staff takes our annual two-week vacation.

Yes, we all (or almost all) go on vacation at the same time. No, we don’t all go to the same place.

We’ve been doing it this way now for eight years. Our summer break is a little lifehack that solves the problem of a company in perpetual-startup mode where something new is always going on and everyone has raging FOMO. We avoid the fear of missing out on emails and new projects and blah blah blah … by making sure that nothing is going on.

I love how the inventor of this holiday, TED’s founding head of media June Cohen, once explained it: “When you have a team of passionate, dedicated overachievers, you don’t need to push them to work harder, you need to help them rest. By taking the same two weeks off, it makes sure everyone takes vacation,” she said. “Planning a vacation is hard — most of us still feel a little guilty to take two weeks off, and we’d be likely to cancel when something inevitably comes up. This creates an enforced rest period, which is so important for productivity and happiness.”

Bonus: “It’s efficient,” she said. “In most companies, people stagger their vacations through the summer. But this means you can never quite get things done all summer long. You never have all the right people in the room.”

So, as the bartender said: You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. We won’t post new TED Talks on the web for the next two weeks. (Though — check out audio talks on iTunes, where we’re curating two weeks of talks on the theme of Journeys.) The office is three-quarters empty. And we stay off email. The whole point is that vacation time should be truly restful, and we should be able to recharge without having to check in or worry about what we’re missing back at the office.

See you on Monday, July 10!

Note: This piece was first posted on July 17, 2014. It was updated on July 27, 2015, again on July 20, 2016, and again on June 23, 2017.