August Holiday Shift: Embracing Change


Holidays have always been an essential element. But like everything related to the world of work, holidays have also entered the whirlwind of change. From company policies that experiment with smart-working or that encourage well-being and rest with yoga and meditation courses to companies that experiment with ‘free holidays’, i.e. a model that gives their employees maximum flexibility, even in Italy we are wondering about some assumptions that have always been considered the cornerstone of our holidays, such as the one according to which the word ‘holiday’ must be accompanied by ‘august’. A habit that dates back to Roman times and which has remained alive until today, also fueled by the fact that school holidays, unlike in other European countries, in Italy are almost all concentrated in the summer and for families with children the possibilities to make trips in the rest of the year are limited. But something is changing.

With smart-working (and not only) goodbye to the August holidays. “The concept of holidays changes, as does the world of work”, says Pietro Novelli, general manager of Oliver James Italia, the recruitment company specializing in technological and financial professions. The introduction of smart working is changing the habits of Italian workers starting from the two canonical central weeks of August.

“The ability to work from places other than the office allows you to re-organize yourself, being able to combine smart-working and long weekends, dividing the holidays into different moments of the year”, explains Novelli. “We are less and less seeing the summer exodus and to the endless queues on the motorway: people can enjoy a weekend away from home by working remotely even on Mondays and Fridays, thus avoiding traffic congestion and nocturnal returns on Sunday evening”, he explains again.

A method that Oliver James observes when recruiting for companies that request it but which is also clearly visible internally, explains the general manager of the company: “Employees have the opportunity, as a policy, to work remotely throughout August , both due to the closure of the company and thanks to full remote working policies for the summer period. Furthermore, from our observatory we note that the various candidates interviewed, when evaluating a job offer, pay particular attention to these elements, especially flexibility and smart-working ”, he adds.

With 22 days of holidays per year plus 10 national holidays, Italy ranks fourth in the European ranking of countries with the most paid holidays per year. Above, only Austria (with 35 days), Portugal (with 22 days plus 13 national holidays) and Spain (with 22 days and 12 national holidays). Bringing up the rear, the United Kingdom, which closes the ranking with only 20 days of holidays a year and 8 public holidays. But just go overseas to see a whole other world: in the USA, for example, holidays paid by the employer are not guaranteed, but only national holidays. Many companies still guarantee holidays which, however, are between 10 and 14 days a year.

“A very different picture from the European one – says Novelli – perhaps given by the fact that the American myth, historically, is based on the assumption that by working hard you can get more and that holidays are a diversion from this scheme. And yet, it is precisely from the United States that new trends in terms of holidays and work are emerging”. American big tech companies – such as Adobe, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Oracle, Netflix and now also Microsoft – are giving life to a new model: that of “free holidays”. In the email that Microsoft sent to its US employees, there is talk of ‘Discretionary Time Off’.

The future of the out of office. In short, even if it is too early to decree the end of the all-Italian story of the August holidays, a new model is emerging: “In Italy it is the new professions that are changing this model, effectively reversing the trend that sees Italians going holidays only in August”, says Novelli.

“We are witnessing a growing demand for work-life balance: especially the new generations, one of the main targets for the new digital and technological professions, are not willing to give up the element of flexibility”, says the manager and this is demonstrated by also the incidence of new phenomena, such as for example the ‘worktation’, the alternation between work and holidays, during the summer, which is an option pursued by 2 out of 5 Italians (data from Emma Villas Observatory).

“For this reason, proposals such as the short week, full remote, unlimited holidays, work by objectives and not by timetable are becoming the main drivers for evaluating or not the work proposals”, concludes Novelli.

This article is originally published on


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