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Why TED takes two weeks off every summer

Posted by: is about to go quiet for the weeks of August 1 and August 8, 2022, while most of the TED staff takes our annual two-week summer holiday. Yes, we all, or almost all, go on holiday at the same time. (No, we don’t all go to the same place.)

We’ve been doing it this way now for more than a decade. Our summer break is a little lifehack that solves the problem of a digital media and events 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.

Here’s how 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.” Instead, for two weeks — almost no one is.

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 website for the next two weeks. (Though we’ll keep serving up great recommendations for talks you already love, or might have missed, across all our platforms.) 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 worry about what we’re missing at work.

See you on Monday, August 15!

Note: This piece was first posted on July 17, 2014. It was updated on July 27, 2015; July 20, 2016; June 23, 2017; July 27, 2018; July 26, 2019; July 24, 2020; August 12, 2021; and yet again on July 22, 2022.