How paid sabbaticals have benefited FormRoom
We live in an age where people’s interests in wellbeing and a healthy work-life balance are on the rise. Flexible working models are becoming more common, while people’s desire to focus on self-care and wellness is at an all-time high.
Enter professional sabbaticals—a term defined as a meaningful ‘career break’ to study or travel.
As a creative agency, our team are under a constant creative pressure. While this exploration is exciting it can also be straining. To help support our team’s personal enrichment and professional development, FormRoom offer a one month (fully paid) sabbatical for every 3 years you stay with our team. Of course, it encourages our superstars to stay on board but crucially, it helps produce stronger, more innovative and creative work. Let the company you work for lift you up and push you forward; not drag you down or hold you back. That way, everyone (including our clients) win.
The first wave of team members took their sabbaticals last year and we’ve had one of our strongest ever performances since, both commercially and artistically.
One—stepping outside of your comfort zone
For me, I found it surprisingly difficult to plan my sabbatical. I had to sit down and think hard about what I wanted to do—if there were no limits, putting money and time aside. I could go anywhere and do anything—without thinking about how it would fit with someone else.
On reflection, I decided I wanted to take a few more risks and purposely put myself out of my comfort zone.
Escaping the digital noise
I had this vision of escaping my desk for a month, meeting new people along the way with no one else to lean on but myself. I pictured myself around a campfire with people I had just met, hiking in the fresh air and seeing surreal landscapes. Simply put, I wanted to be as far away from the digital noise and be with nature.
Before I decided to go on this trip I used to let the stress become overwhelming. I wanted to use this opportunity to disconnect from online and reconnect with myself, people and experiences.
Fulfilling my desire for a digital detox, I spent the first half of my sabbatical in Canada travelling through multiple national parks and camping across the country. I met people of all ages from all over the world, which really helped put everything into perspective. Every day we had an agenda which was filled with adventure, excitement and constant laughs.
A ride to remember
One day we road our bikes down a long winding road where the bikes picked up so much speed it felt like I was riding a motorbike even with my hand’s half gripping the brakes. It sounds incredibly cheesy, but as I glided down that road with the open snow-capped Rocky Mountains ahead of me, it honestly was the closest I have felt to freedom. I will never forget that moment!
Everyone had their own reasons for why they booked this trip. I told them it was one of my most selfish indulgent decisions to come onto this trip, but they all disagreed. Just because you choose to do something that benefits you and your wellbeing, it doesn’t make it selfish. It was such a nice realisation as we huddled around the fire on our last night.
My sabbatical was a much-needed professional re-boot that allowed me to return to work with a new sense of relaxation, clearer mindset and motivation.
Two—a time to reflect
A sabbatical for me offered a unique opportunity to reflect on my life and career which sometimes I felt was not possible because of the everyday pace of normal work life. This time, for me, unlike a regular holiday, had a purposeful, mindful quality to it — a sense that I’m exploring my life beyond work life.
The idea for me was to gain new inspirations, insights and perspectives that allow me to come back stronger and more motivated. I wanted to feel more energised, inspired and committed upon my return, not just mentally but also physically.
During my first week, I focused purely on my health and wellbeing through yoga, meditation and pilates, and avoided computers as much as I could. These simple changes had a massive impact on my overall happiness and motivation. I also booked a calligraphy course in London as it was always an interest of mine. The course was so fascinating and all-consuming – two hours felt like 20mins.
I booked a creative workshop with Tom Dixon at their new HQ, The Coal Office, which included a personal tour from Tom Dixon himself. I had a chance to construct an Etch pendant light in the on-site Tom Dixon Factory where I was inspired by Tom Dixon’s designs, his personality, story and the surroundings of the beautiful building of Tom Dixon’s HQ.
Travels and polaroid series
A trip to Italy was next on the agenda – I travelled through Milan, Genoa and Portofino. For this trip, I bought a black polaroid film for my Instax SQ10 and started an architectural polaroid series (mostly in black and white). A passion of mine which I’ve continued in Paris and London.
It felt freeing to spend the time to cultivate my creativity for myself once again. During this month I have found a new drive to find those small creative ideas and things to do, aside from my daily job.
Overall, I feel both my mental and physical health had been restored. I gained a new energy and motivation for work since taking this time for myself, and appreciate FormRoom offering this incredible opportunity.
New perspectives, skill sets and motivation
Whether an opportunity to recharge, reconnect, spend time with friends and family or explore new experiences, professional sabbaticals benefited both our team members and organisation. Our team members returned with new perspectives, skill sets and motivation that reflected in client projects.