Taking time off around Christmas?

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Taking time off around Christmas?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 20, 2019 2:55 pm

What is your firm's official or unofficial policy for taking time off during the holidays, especially with both Christmas and New Year's falling on Wednesday this year?

I'm a stub year so I'm still trying to figure things out, but a few midlevels told me that basically everyone just "works from home" between Christmas and New Years. However, I know at least two other stubs in my group are actually using their vacation days. Ideally I'd like to "work from home" from my parents' place in a different state, but I'm terrified that some partner or senior associate will ask me to pick something up or swing by their office and freak out when they realize I'm out of office.

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Re: Taking time off around Christmas?

Postby justanotherlurker » Fri Dec 20, 2019 3:01 pm

This should be fine. Depending on your firm culture, you may want to let people know of your plan to be working remotely those days. Most likely, no one will be in the office anyway; Ideally, set up your office phone to forward to your cell and no one will even know.

Just don't say you're working from home if you're actually on the ski slopes and won't respond for hours. If you're not planning on working and being responsive, use the vacation day instead.

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: Taking time off around Christmas?

Postby The Lsat Airbender » Fri Dec 20, 2019 3:10 pm

Agree with the above, and it also depends on whether out-of-state means a 3-hour drive to Rhode Island or having to get on an airplane.

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Re: Taking time off around Christmas?

Postby TigerIsBack » Fri Dec 20, 2019 3:24 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:Agree with the above, and it also depends on whether out-of-state means a 3-hour drive to Rhode Island or having to get on an airplane.


That shouldn't matter at all in terms of working remotely. Are you more effective working from the guest bedroom in your parents' house 30 minutes from the office than if your parents' guest bedroom is a 6-hour flight from the office?

Just try to plan your actual travel (whether it's a long drive or a flight) outside of business hours and let people know that you'll be out of pocket for X hours while traveling, but will catch up as soon as you land/arrive.

And then just plan to be responsive as needed while working remotely, but if you're slow with work because you're a stub year, probably nothing major is going to come up. Just check email regularly on your phone and then you can open the laptop if you need to work on anything.

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Re: Taking time off around Christmas?

Postby The Lsat Airbender » Fri Dec 20, 2019 4:14 pm

TigerIsBack wrote:That shouldn't matter at all in terms of working remotely. Are you more effective working from the guest bedroom in your parents' house 30 minutes from the office than if your parents' guest bedroom is a 6-hour flight from the office?


Depends on firm/partner, I guess. Being able to be in the office in ~ 12 hours (e.g., tomorrow for a 2PM all-hands phone call) is an expectation I've seen from certain partners at certain points in the deal. OP would know best how well they are able to truly work from home.

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Re: Taking time off around Christmas?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 20, 2019 4:22 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:
TigerIsBack wrote:That shouldn't matter at all in terms of working remotely. Are you more effective working from the guest bedroom in your parents' house 30 minutes from the office than if your parents' guest bedroom is a 6-hour flight from the office?


Depends on firm/partner, I guess. Being able to be in the office in ~ 12 hours (e.g., tomorrow for a 2PM all-hands phone call) is an expectation I've seen from certain partners at certain points in the deal. OP would know best how well they are able to truly work from home.



That’s insane? Don’t these calls have dial ins?

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Re: Taking time off around Christmas?

Postby The Lsat Airbender » Fri Dec 20, 2019 4:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
The Lsat Airbender wrote:
TigerIsBack wrote:That shouldn't matter at all in terms of working remotely. Are you more effective working from the guest bedroom in your parents' house 30 minutes from the office than if your parents' guest bedroom is a 6-hour flight from the office?


Depends on firm/partner, I guess. Being able to be in the office in ~ 12 hours (e.g., tomorrow for a 2PM all-hands phone call) is an expectation I've seen from certain partners at certain points in the deal. OP would know best how well they are able to truly work from home.



That’s insane? Don’t these calls have dial ins?


Maybe I'm just showing my age.

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Re: Taking time off around Christmas?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 20, 2019 4:37 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
The Lsat Airbender wrote:
TigerIsBack wrote:That shouldn't matter at all in terms of working remotely. Are you more effective working from the guest bedroom in your parents' house 30 minutes from the office than if your parents' guest bedroom is a 6-hour flight from the office?


Depends on firm/partner, I guess. Being able to be in the office in ~ 12 hours (e.g., tomorrow for a 2PM all-hands phone call) is an expectation I've seen from certain partners at certain points in the deal. OP would know best how well they are able to truly work from home.



That’s insane? Don’t these calls have dial ins?


Maybe I'm just showing my age.



It’s the holidays most firms expect you to be traveling. Bring your lap top. Have WiFi. Monitor your emails. If something comes up handle it.

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Re: Taking time off around Christmas?

Postby QContinuum » Fri Dec 20, 2019 8:27 pm

In my view the main risk of "working remotely" during the hols is with failing to appreciate that "working remotely" actually means "working remotely", i.e., being ready to bust out the laptop and work for an indefinite number of hours on 15-30 minutes' notice even if it's 12/24, or 12/26, or 12/31. (Just having access to work email may not be sufficient.) If one plans to have prolonged periods of unavailability on any of these holiday-season weekdays (e.g., for family functions), then in my view vacation time should be taken.

So long as that is understood and planned on, I really have a hard time seeing the typical senior as objecting to working remotely over the next two weeks.

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Re: Taking time off around Christmas?

Postby TigerIsBack » Sat Dec 21, 2019 2:31 pm

QContinuum wrote:In my view the main risk of "working remotely" during the hols is with failing to appreciate that "working remotely" actually means "working remotely", i.e., being ready to bust out the laptop and work for an indefinite number of hours on 15-30 minutes' notice even if it's 12/24, or 12/26, or 12/31. (Just having access to work email may not be sufficient.) If one plans to have prolonged periods of unavailability on any of these holiday-season weekdays (e.g., for family functions), then in my view vacation time should be taken.

So long as that is understood and planned on, I really have a hard time seeing the typical senior as objecting to working remotely over the next two weeks.


+1. Completely agree on that point. As long as you're available to actually do work, you should be fine. If you will be unavailable (like you're planning to do 8-hour days on the slopes or something), then communicate that to your seniors/teams.

Personally though, I typically start by just communicating any times I'll be unavailable, and then I wait to actually log a vacation day once the day is over, in case some emergency came up and I ended up cancelling my plans to go do a few hours or more of work.

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Re: Taking time off around Christmas?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 21, 2019 10:40 pm

TigerIsBack wrote:
QContinuum wrote:In my view the main risk of "working remotely" during the hols is with failing to appreciate that "working remotely" actually means "working remotely", i.e., being ready to bust out the laptop and work for an indefinite number of hours on 15-30 minutes' notice even if it's 12/24, or 12/26, or 12/31. (Just having access to work email may not be sufficient.) If one plans to have prolonged periods of unavailability on any of these holiday-season weekdays (e.g., for family functions), then in my view vacation time should be taken.

So long as that is understood and planned on, I really have a hard time seeing the typical senior as objecting to working remotely over the next two weeks.


+1. Completely agree on that point. As long as you're available to actually do work, you should be fine. If you will be unavailable (like you're planning to do 8-hour days on the slopes or something), then communicate that to your seniors/teams.

Personally though, I typically start by just communicating any times I'll be unavailable, and then I wait to actually log a vacation day once the day is over, in case some emergency came up and I ended up cancelling my plans to go do a few hours or more of work.


How many hours must one be “unavailable” to require the use of a vacation day? If you’re going to be unavailable for an hour and a half because your family is getting together for dinner and gift opening, is that okay? At what point should you use a vacation day? 3 hours? 4?

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Re: Taking time off around Christmas?

Postby QContinuum » Sun Dec 22, 2019 3:24 am

Anonymous User wrote:How many hours must one be “unavailable” to require the use of a vacation day? If you’re going to be unavailable for an hour and a half because your family is getting together for dinner and gift opening, is that okay? At what point should you use a vacation day? 3 hours? 4?

What seniors actually care about, IME, is knowing when you're available or not. They don't care whether you're "officially" using a vacation day or not. So, key is to communicate when you'll be available, and when not. Though, I don't think I'd necessarily telegraph an hour-and-half period of unavailability in the evening, particularly during the hols, unless there was a particular red-hot matter where that delay would actually be significant. It's the 3+ hours of unavailability during normal working hours that, in my view, require advance notice.

As for whether you should formally use a vacation day or not, that's usually something firm policy will tell you.

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Re: Taking time off around Christmas?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 22, 2019 12:31 pm

I know the whole purpose is to keep us from cashing out unused hours (so it's bad), but being at a firm with an unlimited vacation policy at least seems less difficult during the holidays. No one is tracking whether or not you are "using" a day - you just don't show up and handle your business as it pops up. If you're on a vacation vacation, you raise it in advance and then do your best to go off the grid during that period.

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Re: Taking time off around Christmas?

Postby QContinuum » Sun Dec 22, 2019 8:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I know the whole purpose is to keep us from cashing out unused hours (so it's bad), but being at a firm with an unlimited vacation policy at least seems less difficult during the holidays. No one is tracking whether or not you are "using" a day - you just don't show up and handle your business as it pops up. If you're on a vacation vacation, you raise it in advance and then do your best to go off the grid during that period.

IME, what often happens at "unlimited vacation" places is twofold. One, you don't get to cash out unused hours. Two, and more importantly, people often end up taking less vacation, because, after all, it's not like you have an allotment to use or lose.

I don't think folks at vacation-policy firms typically stress out about whether or not to "use" a day. Typically there are plenty of vacation days and the stress is over whether one can actually take time off (i.e., be out of pocket), not whether one is technically "on vacation" or not. The vacation-day tracking is always done by HR anyway, not by seniors. The "can I drop off the grid" issue isn't really alleviated at an "unlimited vacation" firm.

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Re: Taking time off around Christmas?

Postby notinbiglaw » Thu Jan 09, 2020 10:21 am

I know I am kind of late on this.

At least on the transactions side, taking time off during Christmas is almost expected since bankers start to wind down late November and typically things will slow down as the holidays approach and bankers go on vacation. Things don't really pick up until mid/late January after the bankers return from vacation, do their debriefings for the previous year, and get new deals initiated. So in general, you are free to take vacations during Christmas time even at the busiest firms.

You still have to coordinate. Typically there would be a senior (partners don't stick around in my experience if there is nothing ongoing) staying behind to take care of misc stuff that inevitably comes up. In addition, if a fire drill happens, you'd be expected to reschedule or at least work remotely. So don't take cruises or vacations to places without good internet.

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Re: Taking time off around Christmas?

Postby ghostoftraynor » Thu Jan 09, 2020 12:27 pm

Getting in trouble because you flew home for xmas (but were still fully responsive) is literal insanity. If I was at a place like that, I couldn't lateral fast enough.

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Re: Taking time off around Christmas?

Postby LaLiLuLeLo » Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:36 pm

notinbiglaw wrote:I know I am kind of late on this.

At least on the transactions side, taking time off during Christmas is almost expected since bankers start to wind down late November and typically things will slow down as the holidays approach and bankers go on vacation. Things don't really pick up until mid/late January after the bankers return from vacation, do their debriefings for the previous year, and get new deals initiated. So in general, you are free to take vacations during Christmas time even at the busiest firms.

You still have to coordinate. Typically there would be a senior (partners don't stick around in my experience if there is nothing ongoing) staying behind to take care of misc stuff that inevitably comes up. In addition, if a fire drill happens, you'd be expected to reschedule or at least work remotely. So don't take cruises or vacations to places without good internet.


I’ve had a pretty general corporate practice for several years now and this has not been my experience at all. I’ve never had a dead holiday season. It ranges from balls to the wall busy to moderately busy. I’ve had deals launch around the holidays or active deals that don’t really slow down other than actual Christmas Day. I’ve also not seen the bankers fuck off for weeks...I’ve even heard “jokes” about how they’re going to ruin everyone’s holidays.

I’ve had slower Julys than Decembers.

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Re: Taking time off around Christmas?

Postby QContinuum » Thu Jan 09, 2020 3:04 pm

LaLiLuLeLo wrote:It ranges from balls to the wall busy to moderately busy. I’ve had deals launch around the holidays or active deals that don’t really slow down other than actual Christmas Day.

Agree. Pushing to sign by year-end seems to be a real thing. I was completely swamped this past holiday season.

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Re: Taking time off around Christmas?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 14, 2020 11:19 am

OP anon here: I ended up going home the week of Christmas and came back for the week of New Years. As far as I can tell, no one noticed I was gone and the only people who actually came into the office during that time were my equally confused first-year peers.

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