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Bold new work from home policy allowing Aussies to holiday in Bali without taking leave

Work life balance is important for more Aussies than ever, but can it go too far?

An Australian company has introduced a progressive policy that will make even those who work from home all week jealous. Staff at health food company Carman’s Kitchen are allowed to hop on meetings and send out emails while they're on holiday.

Why would anyone want to be doing that when they're meant to be relaxing and getting away from the daily grind? Company owner Carolyn Creswell said this setup means staff don't have to use up as much annual leave if they're checking in on work duties while on vacation.

Carman's work-from-holiday policy only lasts for five days and staff can elect to work half-days while on vacation without losing any annual leave.

 Carman's Kitchens founder Carolyn Creswell next to insert of woman on her laptop in the pool
Carman's Kitchens founder Carolyn Creswell wanted to give her staff a bit more flexibility when it came to taking time off. (Source: Instagram/Getty)

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"For school holidays, you might say, 'We're going to go to Bali for 10 days but I'm quite happy to work nine 'til 12 and I'm happy to keep up and I might do that three days a week just to keep on top of my workload'," Creswell said on the ABC's Q+A program.


"That's five days of the year that they haven't had to take out of their leave policy."

Not only do they have this annual leave perk, but they also get the Christmas-New Year period off, which doesn't eat into their paid time off days either.

Recruitment expert Graham Wynn told Yahoo Finance the policy is an "excellent perk" as it gives Australians more flexibility and holiday time with family or loved ones.

"I think it's a really interesting idea as a selling point for potential new employees," he said.

But he cautioned it may not be a fit for all businesses. There would need to be a strong layer of trust to make sure workers completed their tasks and didn't just sneak off for cocktails.

"At most businesses, the work you do is trackable," he said. "Some companies have the computer set up in such a way that it can see when you've gone and logged off."

An expert broke down exactly how pervasive and dangerous workplace tracking can be here.

Workers are warned that if they abuse benefits like Carman's working holiday, employers could "just get rid of you".

"Once that trust is broken, then you're out of a job. So, you still have to do the right thing," Wynn said.

"Not every job will be able to do this. It has to work for the individual company, not as a blanket or across companies."

New-age office policies like flexible working from home or the four-day work week have been rolled out around the country

But, some early adopters are sounding the alarm on their efficacy and impact on productivity.

Amantha Imber was the first to bring the four-day work week to Australia. She said it has been fantastic for her management consultancy firm, Inventium, but admitted it has its drawbacks.

She hasn't taken the allotted Friday off all year because times have been tough. No one in her leadership team has done so either.

"While these benefits [of the four-day work week] are real and should be celebrated, they don’t paint the full picture of the challenges that come with implementing and sustaining a successful policy," she said.

Imber said adopting this policy required a humungous "shift in mindset, culture and operations" and it can also create an "uncomfortable" and "challenging" level of transparency, accountability and adaptability for everyone.

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