Features | Reflections

On Labor Week

With the fall approaching, I keep hearing the phrase “return to normal.” Last fall was decidedly not “normal”: with Covid-19 still tearing through our communities six months after arriving in the US, many businesses resigned themselves to another season of remote work. A year later, as vaccines have allowed for widespread reopening, workers nationwide are being told that after Labor Day, it’s back to “business as usual”: back to the office, in-person meetings, commutes, and pre-pandemic expectations. 

It seems like a particular irony that so many workplaces have chosen Labor Day for this “back to business” call. Labor Day is a holiday created by the American labor movement to celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of workers, and to honor them with a national day of rest.  And after this harrowing year-plus, American workers really need rest—including the workers at Getaway, who will not be “getting back to business as usual” this Labor Day.

While the pandemic has exacerbated our stress and fatigue, and further blurred the boundaries between work and downtime, it’s not a new phenomenon. When I started Getaway back in 2015, it was in response to my own work stress and burnout. For me, the tiny cabins at our Outposts are not just a destination but a tool: a way to create physical and psychological distance from the relentless demands of the workaday world.  I want our guests to enjoy the tiny cabins, but more than that, I want them to experience free time: unscheduled, unstructured, and uninterrupted. The guiding philosophy of Getaway is that building and maintaining a balanced, meaningful life requires free time—not just for rest and rejuvenation, but to foster inspiration, creativity, relationship-building, and self-determination.

I want that for Getaway’s staff, too. Our teams have been working tirelessly to keep all sides of the business running smoothly, despite everything this time has thrown at us. For Getaway to be true to its mission and vision—that free time is a right, and a ritual worth protecting—we need to practice what we preach.

Starting this Labor Day, Getaway will be celebrating “Labor Week” by shutting down business for the whole workweek. (This year, that’s September 6–10.) During that time, all Outposts will be closed, and check-ins will be paused, so that every member of the Getaway family — from our headquarters to our Outposts, full-time and part-time workers alike — can enjoy a paid week of free time. With this initiative—which we hope will become an annual tradition—we seek to honor the original spirit of Labor Day: taking pride in our work while also recognizing that our lives are about much more than our labor

While Labor Week is new for Getaway, it’s a natural continuation of our company culture. Our staff knows that they are not expected to work (including responding to emails) during their off hours. Since its inception, Getaway has provided salaried employees with 20 paid vacation days in addition to 10 national holidays—and it’s mandatory that people take that time off. We’ve also extended paid vacation and holidays to our part-time team members. Three years ago, we launched our Getaday program, granting all full-time workers an extra day off each month, bringing our total to 52 paid days off per year (not including weekends), meaning we are off 20% of “work” days — or the equivalent of working four days per week.  

We haven’t gotten it all 100% right over the years— we’re a work in progress, and committed to always improving — but I’m incredibly proud of Getaway’s role as a leader when it comes to honoring and protecting our employees’ free time. Still, we’re a hospitality company, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t scary or expensive to shut down operations during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year. But to me, success isn’t just about our bottom line. It’s about leading by example. Our company exists because of the people who work here, and even Getaway needs to get away sometimes.

Note: In a perfect world, no guests would be impacted by Labor Week. For the small group of folks who’ve already booked stays during the week of September 6–10, we’re currently working to ensure that they’re rebooked for new dates that work for them. Going forward, we’ll be sure to block off Labor Week so that guests can continue booking with confidence.