June 30, 2009

Adobe is closed this week (and what that means)

I just saw Daring Fireball point to an SJ Merc story relaying the rather banal news that most Adobe offices are closed this week. So they are*. I’m no expert on company expense management, nor am I a corporate spokesperson (see blurb at right), but I feel like sharing a little perspective.

Let me first mention that these Adobe shutdowns are nothing new. I’ve worked here for 9 years, and the company has done the shutdowns off and on throughout that time–at least since ’01 or ’02. I didn’t hear the news of this one and say (as DF does) “Uh-oh.”

Mr. Gruber reasonably asks, “At a software company, shouldn’t every week be a productive week?” Sure, but I’ll bet you know what it’s like to work near holidays: it’s harder to make progress when lots of your colleagues are out of the office. If that’s going to be the case, why not just schedule a break & save a bunch of money on facilities, security, and so forth?**

I’d rather have everyone be gone at once (and thus more likely back at once) than to run at reduced strength for weeks on end.

Gruber also writes,

And I can only guess that on some, if not most, teams, there is subtle (or even not so subtle) pressure to keep working from home on whatever your current project is.

Nope. As I understand it, a few teams with time-sensitive projects may get permission to work through the break, but everyone else is taking the time off. Because the breaks aren’t a surprise, most teams built them into their schedules a long time ago (just as they do with holidays). Adobe offers very generous PTO benefits, to the point that people don’t use up enough time off. A week-long shutdown is a way of saying, “No, seriously, guys–we want you to take some vacation. Get the hell out of here, enjoy yourself, and come back refreshed.”

Anyway, my inbox for Monday shows 70 mails, vs. 300+ for a typical day. Clearly somebody is taking vacation seriously. Collectively we’re taking it all in stride.

* So why am I continuing to blog? For one thing, I’m drumming my fingers with nervous energy, waiting for a baby to arrive, and I need the distraction.

** For a company of ~7,400 employees, saving a week’s worth of summertime energy & other infrastructure expenses translates to real money. Meanwhile Adobe HQ (already the first existing LEED Platinum-rated green building) is upgrading this week to even more energy-efficient HVAC. The 20-story yellow crane I saw yesterday can’t do its thing while people are inside/below.

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