Insights from Our Office

Why TED takes two weeks off every summer

Why_we_close_983pxTED.com has gone dark for two weeks. No new TED Talks will be posted until Monday, August 10, 2015, while most of the TED staff takes a twoweek holiday. Yes, we all go on break at the same time (mostly). No, we don’t all go to the same place :)

We’ve been doing it this way now for six years; our summer break is a little hack that solves the problem of an office full of Type-A’s with raging FOMO. We avoid the fear of missing out on emails and IMs and new projects and blah blah blah … by making sure that nothing is going on.

I love how my boss, June Cohen, explains 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 says. “Planning a vacation is hard — most of us would feel a little guilty to take two weeks off if it weren’t pre-planned for us, and we’d be likely to cancel when something inevitably came up. This creates an enforced rest period, which is so important for productivity and happiness.”

Bonus: “It’s efficient,” she says. “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.”

“We’re all on the same schedule. We all return feeling rested and invigorated. What’s good for the team is good for business.”

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 for the next two weeks. The main office is 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.

One team isn’t taking this year’s break, though: This year’s break falls over Q4 contract deadlines, so our partnership team is in full swing, closing the sponsor deals that help support all of TED’s work throughout the year. So please, send good thoughts to the hardworking folks who help bring you TED Talks for free.

From the rest of us, see you on August 10!

Note: This piece was originally posted on July 17, 2014. It was updated on July 27, 2015.