In my experience, which is mainly just observing friends and family members in professional settings, the United States treats vacation time or time away from the office as something to use sparingly in most cases. Some office settings are different and they give more time away or are more loose with allowing you to work from home if you need to or take half days without officially taking away from your vacation days. But there is also the opposite in the States, in some industries taking any time off is frowned upon until you’ve worked your way up to the top. In the Czech Republic, I think that the attitude towards days off and vacation is what is most different from the United States work culture. Here in the Czech Republic, I believe it is more commonplace to have more time off than at most U.S. companies and it is more encouraged to use all of those days off. In talking to my supervisor I figure my company gives somewhere around three to four weeks of vacation time, in addition to the two shutdowns that happen each year in August and around Christmas and New Years. In total, this adds up to about six weeks off and most of my coworkers seem to use every last day of it. Using their vacation time however is certainly not to say they don’t work hard while they are at the office, everyone gets there promptly each day and is working hard within a few minutes of their arrival. While breaks happen every now and then most of the day is spent focusing on work, which I think balances out the time you do get to take off. While I can’t change the stance most U.S. companies have on vacation time I do think to incorporate how my fellow coworkers and a lot of the Czech’s I’ve run into use their time at the office. Since they know that their time is valuable and limited they are very focused during the day, but also set a strict schedule of being at the office at a certain time and leaving at a certain time, and in most cases, it feels like most of my coworkers leave all of their work at this office. I think this kind of attitude and mindset would be a valuable one to integrate into my professional life at home because it sets a tone for when you’re at the office of taking work seriously to make the best use of your time there, but it also creates a very healthy workalike balance in that when you are done for the day you can just go home and relax. Sometimes it is necessary to stay late or do some work from home, but it shouldn’t be an everyday thing.
As far as this past week goes it was a pretty laid back one at the office. With things winding down many of my coworkers are starting to use some of their vacation days before the official holiday begins next week. We still have work to be doing but the days feel much more relaxed than at the beginning of my internship. With the slow down of shipments we have on a daily basis I’ve gotten assigned more tasks that have to do with organizing the warehouse more efficiently and trying to think of a better system for the way we store, order, and inventory much of our warehouse. This is definitely a new task for me as so far I’ve had some pretty structure things that I’ve been doing since the first week I was here. With the warehouse tasks, I definitely have to get more creative with my approach to them and have really had to do some research into different kanban systems and ways other warehouses are run.
With a relatively quiet week at work, I found myself with more energy at the end of the day to get out and explore more of Prague, but it was a little bittersweet as it really made me realize how quickly the end of this program is coming up. While I’m writing this I only have 13 days before I leave to go back home and back to Pittsburgh, and only 5 with most of the other people on my program as they end a week earlier than Pitt students. Since I only have a limited amount of time here I decided to stay in Prague last weekend and got out to see the Straropamen Brewery as well as Petrin (replica of the Eiffel tower) with my roommates. I can’t wait for my last two weeks here and am especially looking forward to a visit from two of my best friends from home this Thursday!