Guides

Managing public and bank holidays for your remote team

How to handle cultural, bank and public holidays when your business is international

3 min
Linda Wang
September 6, 2020

It's a bank holiday in the UK today. Around the world there are hundreds of holidays observed by different nationalities and cultures which can be a challenge to manage when your team is global. Not only is this a challenge for managers, but it can also be a challenge for colleagues within the same team. They may not always informed by the different holiday calendars & customs of their international colleagues and misunderstandings can take place when there may be different expectations when it comes to differences in the cultural norms of time off. In the modern workplace, it is important that we show respect towards peoples' own time off while balancing expectations and responsibilities in a team.

In this article, we will give an introduction to the different types of holidays your remote employees may ask to take and how to manage communication and plans around them for your entire remote team.

Cultural

One of the most valuable strengths of leading a remote team is the diversity that different people and their experiences and cultures bring to your business. On the flip side of that, it is just as vital that employers and managers acknowledge the cultural differences of their team members and put measures in place to build an inclusive workplace.

An excellent way of fostering cultural understanding and education within your team is to take advantage of international holidays throughout the year, sometimes whether they are based in the same office location or not. For example, US employees aren't typically expected to work on Thanksgiving or New Year's Day but you may have US based employees who also celebrate Yom Kippur, Chinese New Year or Ramadan.

As our international employees might not only be located in a different country but may also have different cultures, this should be understood in advance when preparing holiday allowances.

Be aware of public and bank holidays

Can you guess the average number of paid public holidays around the world? It's 11 days across 195 countries worldwide. Most European countries enjoy around 10-14 paid public holidays a year, UK a little lower at 8 days while Norway has the lowest in the world with only two. Cambodia tops the list with 28 public holidays a year.

Given such disparities globally, it is important as an employer to keep up to date with local laws & regulations of holidays for your remote staff so you remain compliant to local working hours and designated public holidays.

Use proactive communication

Whether it's holidays or any other issues, it is important to understand everyone on your team and that means taking a proactive approach to learning about their cultural background, traditions and national holidays. It is also totally fine to not know everything and ask your remote employees for clarification about what holidays they expect outside of the annual holiday allowances. As expected, you should also have policies in place to ask your team to give you advance notice of any upcoming and annual holidays that they observe or would like to take.

Celebrate all occasions

The point of holidays is to celebrate and commemorate important events, take time off  to be with family and most of all, have fun! Sharing fun moments and holidays is part of the fun so don't be afraid to share your national holidays with your team and encourage them to do the same. Create an outlet to wish your employees happy holidays and encourage them to share their culture with the broader team.

An excellent way of fostering cultural understanding and education within your team is to take advantage of international holidays throughout the year.

Not all holidays have to be official or serious. One place I worked at celebrated Global Pizza Day, everyone got the day off work and shared pictures of their homemade or store bought pizzas. It's a fun way of giving the whole team a breather and finding a common light-hearted event to celebrate.

The Omnipresent Way

At Omnipresent, we have a very simple guideline for holidays:

  • Bank holidays count where we have our home base or where we are employed out of
  • Request other time off with your manager well in advance.
  • Email or slack people you work closely with about your plans at least a week before.

We are also happy to help employers understand their remote employees' local holiday guidelines and advise on finding the best way of managing time-off for remote employees. Contact us to learn more.

We'd love to hear from you too! How do you handle holidays across your remote team?

Linda Wang
Linda Wang leads Marketing, Partnerships & Special projects at Omnipresent. Prior to Omnipresent, Linda was Head of International Expansion, at ShapeShift, a global cryptocurrency exchange. She also founded multiple startups and has a Masters Degree in Computer Science.