BenefitsSee next article
Not Your Typical Pastimes
Sameer C. Senior developerBased in Sydney On-the-side hobby Hang gliding Flight is the stuff of human dreams, literally and figuratively. And while many of us enjoy air travel pretty regularly, we’re not so much exhilarated by the experience as we are annoyed by all of its hassles. That’s why Sameer C., a senior developer based in Adobe’s Sydney office, is spending less time on his hobby of flying single-engine propeller planes and focusing instead on a more rustic experience of flight: hang gliding. “There’s no machine,” Sameer says. “It’s quiet and you’re just floating.” Sameer had been a fan of aerobatics when he was flying planes. But flying planes is an expensive, time-consuming hobby. It’s far more regulated, and you have to pay for fuel and book time at small airports in advance. So when he discovered hang gliding, Sameer also got back in touch with his reason for flying in the first place: not to master the natural world as an adrenaline junkie in a complex, manmade machine, but to become more in tune with it—to feel, quite simply, what it is to be a bird.
[responsive imageid='13761' size1='0' size2='960'] Once you hang glide, you don’t want to come back down.“If you’re flying around Australia, there’s nothing between you and the beautiful earth,” Sameer says. “The higher you go, the more secure you feel. It’s peaceful and you’re not afraid of anything. I can’t even describe the feeling.” Sameer joined Adobe in 2010 and has developed a rhythm to his life that makes it easy to combine work and hobby. “There are always times when you have things to do at work and you can’t take time off,” Sameer says. “But I have never had a time where I had to really compromise my personal life. I can work from anywhere. I can even work in the evenings and go flying in the mornings.”
Tiffany O. Web designerBased in New York City On-the-side hobby Stock car racing For Tiffany O., a web designer in Adobe’s New York office, it’s hard to remember a time when she wasn’t a gearhead.
[responsive imageid='13763' size1='0' size2='960'] My mom tried to get me into horseback riding, and I’d always say it was too slow. I’d jump off and ride away on my bike and say, ‘Mom, I need wheels.’Later, 14-year-old Tiffany took a trip to Universal Studios and went on the “Back to the Future” ride. Something that might be a fun but faded memory for most grownups still seems fateful to her. “They had a DeLorean, the car from the movie, and it was love at first sight,” Tiffany says. “I said, ‘Mom, I have to get a DeLorean.’ I had a job and was trying to save money. So when we went to a DeLorean car show when I was 16, she helped me out and I bought a DeLorean as my first car. It’s still a prized possession.” Tiffany has collected other gems, including a ’67 Firebird, and has even built a few motors herself. But she’s more than just a collector; every weekend, from April to October, she’s stock car racing in her ’85 Monte Carlo at Wall Stadium Speedway in New Jersey. Tiffany has been racing since 2010 and already has some wins under her belt. Because Tiffany works in New York City, a mecca of foot traffic and public transportation, she can’t take her cars to work. So the weekends are her time to step into a different world and unwind—making her totally prepared for what awaits at the office. “If I’m in a stressful project and there’s a lot going on, when the weekend comes I can focus on racing,” Tiffany says. “Nothing else is on my mind. It’s like an escape that keeps me sane. After experiencing the adrenaline of screaming tires and cars rubbing side by side at top speeds, when I get back to the office any client issue is like, ‘Hey, no sweat.’”
Martin B. Senior manager of partner engagement, EuropeBased in Paris On-the-side hobby Photography Martin B. joined Adobe in 2000. He had gotten to know the company through working at an Adobe partner in Paris and thought it would be a fun place to work. “I wanted to work here because of the people and the products themselves,” Martin says. “They were all outstanding.” Martin had been gradually getting interested in photography since the first digital cameras hit the market, and coming to work at the company that created Photoshop only made his interest grow. He started shooting more and more photos on trips and receiving encouraging feedback. So he got more serious about the craft.
[responsive imageid='13764' size1='0' size2='960'] I couldn’t be working at a better place to start learning about photography. My peers at Adobe France helped me understand the software and to learn the craft faster. I also had access to the community of photographers and Adobe users. They know so much about the software and were a great influence on what I learned.Today, Martin goes shooting nearly every weekend. He takes his gear on trips around the world—Death Valley, the Grand Canyon, Australia, Tokyo—and brings home gorgeous landscapes and cityscapes that look every bit the work of a professional. Best of all, he says, photography gives him a chance to clear his mind—providing that dose of perspective that keeps the rest of his life in balance. “Getting the best possible image helps me get my mind outside of the daily work I’m doing,” Martin says. “Just to frame up a picture and have it look right takes an amazing amount of time and focus. It helps me pay attention to what is important and to the beautiful aspects of life.”
Angelie H. Project manager for experience design researchBased in San Francisco On-the-side hobby Makeup artistry It’s pretty common for teenage girls to get interested in makeup. The allure of transforming and defining the self—right at the time when young people are trying to figure out exactly who they are—is strong. But for Angelie H., a project manager at Adobe in San Francisco, makeup became a fascination when a professional showed her how to see the human face as a canvas and makeup as artistic tools. “It became this thing I was passionate about,” Angelie says. “Highlights, contour—I started learning the tricks of the trade and, from there, focused my attention to more granular things like pigments and skin tones and face shape and the geometry involved.”
[responsive imageid='13762' size1='0' size2='960'] There are so many people who don’t think they’re beautiful, so if I can help them see it, it’s worth it.Her obsession came in handy during college when she lived in a dormitory full of peers. “Anytime anybody had a ball or sorority event or any kind of social gathering, I’d do their makeup,” she says. “All the students in the dorm referred to me as the makeup artist on the 6th floor.” From there, Angelie started booking photo shoots, calendar shoots, and runway shows. Makeup artistry quickly became a way to fund food, rent, and books in college. Today, she still does it for fun and stays on top of industry trends and techniques. She even did makeup and hair for an Adobe video on the company’s vision for the future. Aside from the fun of playing with color and light, Angelie says what keeps her in love with makeup is its potential to affect people psychologically. “When I started putting makeup on other people, they would always look at themselves and say, ‘I didn’t know I could look like this,’ whether that meant wearing makeup for the first time or learning that less is more,” Angelie says. “There are so many people who don’t think they’re beautiful, so if I can help them see it, it’s worth it.”
Craig S. Senior user researcher in San FranciscoHow he spent his sabbatical On a trip to Switzerland to reconnect with his ancestral homeland Craig S. took his sabbatical planning very seriously. Should he plan his dream house? Volunteer? Learn some new skills? He had never even taken a break between jobs or college degrees, and now he had to figure out how to spend a rare five-week vacation doing anything at all? It was a little overwhelming. So Craig spent several weeks exploring the possibilities, culminating in a Friday when he and his wife took a day off, headed to a local café with a stack of books, and talked through the possibilities. At the end of the brainstorm, he knew what he wanted: a trip to Switzerland to connect with his roots. “My sense of identity was usually strongest on the Swiss side, so I decided it was time to take my first trip there to see firsthand what the culture was like,” Craig says. “I wanted to see some of the towns that my relatives had come from.” The trip wouldn’t be only for him; his wife would join, along with their 8-year-old daughter.
[responsive imageid='13776' size1='0' size2='960'] I was hoping she would get to learn about where her family was from and to give her the benefit that I didn’t have growing up—instead of, like me, having the “who am I?” question pop up in midlife.The family decided not to rent a car for the five weeks of their trip but to travel and mingle with the locals using the superb transportation network of Swiss trains, buses, and cable cars. To learn as much as possible about the people, the past, and the culture, they usually explored their immediate locale on foot or by bike, often spending up to a week getting to know a given area. They woke up to leisurely outdoor breakfasts, decided how to spend the day, then went out for an adventure. And in scenic, mountainous Switzerland, Craig may have discovered the reason for his love of high places. “I’ve always been a mountain person,” Craig says. “In Switzerland, I would be looking at trail maps deciding where to go, and it was always an easy decision because I realized that the higher I climbed, the happier I was, particularly when I had the chance to hike in snow in summer temperatures.” The best part of the trip came when the family travelled to remote carless villages up in the mountains, accessible only by cable car or foot. These old-world-charm mountain lodges sometimes even lacked electricity or indoor plumbing. “We were by no means roughing it,” Craig says. “The Swiss are very civilized. The rooms were impeccable with fluffy, warm duvets. The bathrooms were clean and the meals were homemade.” The escape from modern-day technology allowed him to relive the experience that his distant relatives must have had when they were alive. Here, the family focused on what mattered the most—the breathtaking natural beauty, spending time with each other, and exchanging stories with other travelers. When he came home, he resolved to find more balance in his life. He had bought land in the Sierra Nevada mountains and decided to make a serious attempt to spend more time there. But the changes also affected work. Craig says he quickly identified with the strong work ethic prized in the Swiss culture, and that inspired him to approach his job a little differently. “People tell me that I have the strongest work ethic of anybody they’ve ever met, but when I look back over my career, my achievements weren’t always related to how many hours I’d worked,” Craig says. “I had a realization that I needed to be strategic and focus on quality—on what has the highest value to the customer—not on quantity. Thinking about that, I feel like I’m now making a greater contribution to the company and doing better work.”
Sandip B. Quality engineering manager in Noida, IndiaHow he spent his sabbatical Visiting family and caring for his newborn daughter Sandip B. was thinking he might spend his sabbatical on a grand adventure. But then he and his wife found out they were expecting a baby. And as everybody knows, babies change everything. Instead of trekking to an exotic vacation, Sandip decided to make his sabbatical all about family. So, shortly after his daughter was born, Sandip and his wife took her on a trip to his hometown to spend a few weeks with his parents and extended family. Sandip’s parents had met the baby once before but hadn’t been able to stay for long. Other family members, like aunts and uncles, also live in his hometown, so this trip gave everyone a rare opportunity to be together. It also gave Sandip the chance to bond with his daughter.
[responsive imageid='13778' size1='0' size2='960'] You can’t measure the value that Adobe has provided to an employee with a sabbatical like this. You can give an employee what seems to be an equivalent bonus or salary, but giving this time—saying ‘this is your time, your job is assured, take this time and do whatever you want with it’—is priceless.“When she was born, she used to sleep a lot. But then we noticed each and every change as it developed, and I wanted to be there,” Sandip says. “From the moment she started looking into my eyes, smiling at me, understanding that I was talking to her—I could have missed those times and my wife would have just told me about them when I got home from work. But this way, I could be a part of it.” Sandip saved the last week of his sabbatical to travel back home and spend a few days as a nuclear family, bonding and readjusting to daily life. And in the end, he decided that having this time with his new family was better than any other adventure he could have planned.
Jamie R. Purchasing specialist in Lehi, UtahHow she spent her sabbatical In Lehi helping to plan her daughter’s wedding When Jamie R. earned a sabbatical in 2012, she didn’t take it right away. She knew what she wanted to save it for: her daughter’s wedding. It might seem an unusual choice for a time that many people spend on rest and relaxation. After all, no matter how happy the occasion of a wedding might be, the planning of it tends to be a crush of stress. But Jamie says that was exactly her reasoning.
[responsive imageid='13777' size1='0' size2='960'] I really got to enjoy it with her instead of just putting on an event, and not feeling stressed was the most rewarding part.“It was really fun to be able to enjoy that time with my daughter as a bride—to go dress shopping and do some of the things I’d be stressed about and rushing through otherwise,” Jamie says. For four weeks, Jamie and her daughter not only planned the wedding but also handled many parts of the event themselves, including the decorating and preparing food for at least 100 guests. They even juggled bridal showers scheduled three weekends in a row. “Family is a big deal to me, and I was just grateful that Adobe offered that opportunity because most people can’t take four weeks off of work for a wedding,” Jamie says. “It shows me that the company values recharge time for employees. I have never worked for any company that has such a great time off policy as Adobe does.”
Shigehiro H. Manager of digital media sales in TokyoHow he spent his sabbatical Meeting up with old friends in Myanmar, Malaysia, and Singapore About six years ago, Shigehiro’s family started participating in an international homestay program. Each year, he welcomes into his home a visitor from another country, giving his guest a chance to experience daily life and culture in Japan. Each time one of Shigehiro’s homestay guests leaves, he says the same thing: “Next time, I’ll visit you.” So when he earned a sabbatical at Adobe, he decided to make good on that promise. Shigehiro set out on a multi-country trip to visit a combination of friends and former guests and to learn about the local cultures.
[responsive imageid='13779' size1='0' size2='960'] Exploring different places, all in different economic stages of development and with different lifestyles, gave me great insight and made me think about things I might not be thinking about day to day.He started his trip in Myanmar, where he visited a former homestay guest and saw some of the progress made at a local school that he and his friends have helped to support since 2002. He hiked the mountains near Lake Inle and saw local agriculture in action, including the lake’s floating gardens of fruits and vegetables. Then he reunited with friends in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Singapore, getting a local’s experience of the best restaurants and of family cooking at home. “When you experience the differences in daily life—foods, customs, and anything related to lifestyle—you start to question everything that those things mean,” Shigehiro says. “By going through those questions and conversations, you gain a greater appreciation for all different cultures.” After a quick stop at Adobe Singapore to say hello to his colleagues, Shigehiro headed back to Tokyo refreshed. “I am thankful for the company for giving me an opportunity to make a small dream come true.”
5 years of service = 4 weeks of sabbatical 10 years of service = 5 weeks of sabbatical 15 years of service (and every 5 years after) = 6 weeks of sabbatical Available to employees in the U.S., Canada, Japan, and IndiaNot many companies offer sabbaticals these days. Paying employees to take extended vacations seems to contradict the way many organizations expect their employees to work: faster and for longer hours. But Adobe sees the world a little differently, understanding that well-balanced employees are happy employees—and happy employees stay at the company to do more innovative work. Here’s how sabbaticals work at Adobe:
Focus on Fitness
Adobe FitBit Program: Taking care of business by taking care of employeesOne day at the office, Jeremy M., a sourcing specialist at Adobe San Jose, overheard a coworker discussing how much she liked her FitBit fitness tracker. He then heard her imagine what it might be like if everyone else at Adobe had a FitBit, too. For Jeremy, who had always been interested in health, it was an intriguing idea—intriguing enough to look into. “In the office, we’re always talking about how to have a healthy workplace and keep employees engaged around their fitness,” Jeremy says. “So that night, I reviewed all of the fitness trackers on the market and sent a list of their features to our senior vice president of People & Places. She reviewed everything and immediately backed this idea to help employees get their own FitBit.” Active people are happier people, and that’s one reason that Adobe has always worked hard to make it easy for employees to stay fit. While the FitBit program is new, the company’s commitment to wellness isn’t. It offers a wealth of options: on-site gyms, regularly scheduled fitness classes, sports-focused clubs, corporate triathlons, friendly fitness competitions, and a generous reimbursement for those who pay out of pocket for wellness-related activities and memberships. The FitBit program wasn’t just an extension of that environment; it was a way for the company to back up its talk with a serious investment. The company is subsidizing a large portion of the cost of each device, and the ability to use wellness dollars for the remaining cost has made the device free for many employees. They can even order a FitBit for a spouse at the same reduced price. The program launched in May, and soon, FitBits were appearing on wrists all over campus.
[responsive imageid='13792' size1='0' size2='960'] By spending money on this for employees, Adobe is saying that it’s good to have balance. It’s good to take care of yourself.“A company-sponsored program like this can motivate people,” Jeremy says. “Normally, you might connect with friends on Facebook to share your progress, but now your whole company is involved. We have our own social network. So we can look at each other and say, ‘How are your steps today?’ or create competitions by department. It’s fun and effective.” One goal, Jeremy says, is to get more than 50% participation at U.S. locations. But a more important goal is to help employees manage a lifestyle change that is otherwise really, really difficult. “When you’re early in your career, you think that you have to move up the ladder by showing your manager that you worked the hardest. So maybe you’ll choose to skip a family dinner or have another cup of coffee so you can get back on the computer,” Jeremy says. “You think you can burn the candle at both ends, but you’ll pay the consequences in the long run, and you might not be able to fix it then. By spending money on this for employees, Adobe is saying that it’s good to have balance. It’s good to take care of yourself.”
Kathy B. Executive assistant in Lehi, UtahHow she stays fit Lunchtime fitness classes on campus In 1998, shortly after Kathy B. had her son, she started taking advantage of her lunch hour to get exercise. It quickly became a habit that she couldn’t shake. So when she joined Adobe, she was pleased that the Lehi campus had a staffed on-site gym that offered a variety of fitness classes during lunchtime—all of which are now free for employees. “To have the wellness center here and have it staffed the way it is has become very important to me,” Kathy says. “That benefit is an important factor when deciding where to work.”
[responsive imageid='13793' size1='0' size2='960'] I’ve never worked for a company that’s so focused on wellness and has so many options. The gym, the clubs, on-site massage, the healthy options in the café—this is the fittest company that I’ve ever worked for.Today, Kathy takes three classes each week—usually some combination of cardio, circuit training, Zumba, and spin. As if that doesn’t sound like enough of a commitment, Kathy even has the highest rate of fitness class attendance on the entire campus. “There are days when work might be stressful, but I can go down to the wellness center and work out for my lunch hour, and then I feel better,” Kathy says. “It helps a lot just to get away and do something different.” Kathy has recruited coworkers to attend classes. And the classes have proved to be a great way to meet other employees she might otherwise never have the opportunity to interact with. The health-focused atmosphere helps to keep them all accountable.
Philipp K. Director of engineering in BaselHow he stays fit Cycling, running, ergotherapy Philipp K. has been an endurance athlete for years, always known for cycling, running, mountain biking, and skiing to a pretty intense degree. For Philipp, a typical week included 100 – 200 km of race biking, 50 km of mountain biking, and 50 km of running—on top of raising a family and working as an Adobe director of engineering in Basel. He even participated in one or two intense multisport competitions each year. “My goal was always to reach the finish line and just find out how much my body is capable of doing,” Philipp says. After a series of knee injuries forced him to dial down the intensity, Philipp decided to use his Adobe wellness dollars on ergotherapy to return to the top of his game. But he couldn’t give up the training; today he’s staying in shape by doing the same activities and working toward a recovery.
[responsive imageid='13794' size1='0' size2='960'] I really like that Adobe understands that you can be your best only if your mind and body are at their best, too.“It helps to clear my mind. I can think of problems or issues that bothered me the whole day, and finally come up with the solutions while doing sports,” Philipp says. “It also helps me to think about my family or think about nothing at all. Sometimes that’s an important part of it: just relaxing and letting my body do what it has to do.” Soon, Philipp will leave behind the outdoor sports haven of Basel to relocate to Adobe’s Lehi, Utah, campus. There, he’ll continue to build up his fitness at the company’s on-site fitness facilities, ride with the Adobe cycling team, and take advantage of the incredible mountain biking trails in Utah.
Martina S. Enterprise account executive in SydneyHow she stays fit Running When Martina S. joined Adobe as an enterprise account executive in Sydney, she knew the company offered great benefits. But she didn’t realize initially that Adobe would reimburse her for some wellness costs. “I was aware of the incentives and I knew they looked after their staff, but this was an exciting surprise,” Martina says. “I had read the Adobe Life magazine and watched videos, and it seemed like a great culture.” Then she settled into her job and discovered that Adobe would reimburse some of her running club membership fees. She also noticed a lot of fitness-minded people around her, and they all seemed to balance work and health easily. That’s when she knew that Adobe wasn’t just giving lip service to the idea of wellness.
[responsive imageid='13796' size1='0' size2='960'] Adobe is a global business in a fast-moving industry, where shareholders have high expectations. So I was surprised at how encouraging they are that fitness is something we should all have time to do.“This is by far the best company that I’ve ever worked for,” Martina says. The company has been so flexible. I do my training with a running club in the morning and I notice that a lot of people go to the gym at lunchtime.” Since joining the company, Martina has participated in an Adobe triathlon and even ran her fastest time ever for a 10k race. She says she’s grateful to Adobe for making wellness an integral part of life for its employees.