Being part of the academic world often grants the precious perk of sabbatical leave. This period of time is truly significant for the opportunity to focus on personal and professional development in a completely different setting from your daily workplace. It is not, however, only tenured professors who can benefit from taking a sabbatical. Artists, writers, and others in higher education often benefit from taking sabbatical leave as well as those in the corporate world.
The word sabbatical has come to mean an extended period of absence in an individual’s career, really taking a pause to travel, work on projects for research purposes or writing a book and usually spending time in a different city or country.
The word “sabbatical” originally comes from the word “sabbath,” which means to rest, cease or to stop. In a religious context, it has to do with the seventh day every week in which an individual is supposed to take a break from his or her work in order to rest and worship. In academia, a sabbatical was originally based on working seven years and taking one year off after every seventh year.
For almost 20 years, Sabbatical Homes has focused on providing opportunities for academics to find housing and tenants while taking a sabbatical. We also have a strong group of like-minded members who are not academics who have made matches for their homes or temporary homes while traveling the world and pursuing their passions. Read on to see how you can be part of this!
What is a Sabbatical?
A sabbatical involves taking an extended break from your employment, with the guarantee that your position will be held for you upon your return. People will typically use a sabbatical for writing or research purposes, to either complete or add on to a body of work. Another goal that many fulfill while on sabbatical is to refocus on personal life – either family or creative projects.
After seven years of heading up a three-campus community college in Maryland along with juggling family life, in 2017 DeRionne P. Pollard was “getting a little burned out.” The Chronicle of Higher Education profiled how her sabbatical helped her reboot in “When the President Needs a Break.”
Nowadays, this concept of a timed resting period makes good sense, as the lines between our professional and personal lives have blurred. A sabbatical is a remarkable concept. Research has shown that sabbatical positively impacts professional productivity and creativity and improves overall mental and physical health.
A sabbatical lightens the weight of professional attrition, allows for an exchange of ideas and networking and allows professionals to learn new skills and progress their current ones, to say the least. Check out our “10 Reasons to Take a Sabbatical” if you need a little more convincing about the benefits of taking a sabbatical.
Sabbaticals can be either paid or unpaid, depending on your profession, employer, and the number of years that you have worked at a specific company. Outside of academia, there are companies that offer both paid and unpaid sabbaticals, but the majority of companies will offer unpaid sabbaticals.
In Deborah J. Cohan’s Inside Higher Education article, “Self Care for the New Year,” her final point is to “Take a 10-minute sabbatical every day” to keep yourself refreshed and focused on your work in the busy day to day life of an academic.
Rather than 10 minutes though, a typical sabbatical can range from three weeks or up to six months or a year. The duration of a sabbatical varies depending on the profession and the professional’s employer. Throughout the years, there has been an increase in the number of employers that have been making sabbaticals a part of the benefits and policies that their companies provide.
Sabbaticals were traditionally based on taking one year of sabbatical leave for every seven years of tenured word, but it has become more common in academia to take a 6-month sabbatical after every three and half years of work. And some universities will typically grant their faculty members one to two semesters of paid sabbatical after the faculty member has served full-time service of at least 12 full semesters. These details will, of course, depend on the school, college, or university.
In the corporate world, some companies will grant their employees sabbaticals after full completion of five years within the company and other companies may require the service of ten full years or even fifteen years.
For companies that do not have a standard sabbatical policy, people are often able to negotiate with their boss by presenting the benefits to the organization along with a plan for how their responsibilities will be covered in their absence.
How to Take a Sabbatical From Work
Interest in taking a sabbatical from work is particularly high among American professionals. Online research and studies have shown that 58 percent of men and 68 percent of women state that they would consider taking a sabbatical from work.
The reasons that you may wish to take a sabbatical can vary; they can be professionally related, or personal. Canadian actor, Rick Moranis, for example, stated: “Well, I took a sabbatical. I walked away from shooting movies because I could not handle the travel. I am a single parent. I had young kids, and I found that keeping in touch with them from hotel rooms and airports was not working for me. So I stopped.”
This is an extreme example of a professional taking a sabbatical for family related purposes. Something like this is perfectly understandable; however expressing your intentions behind a sabbatical may be something of value when it comes to taking a sabbatical from work. This way, your employer will potentially be able to better understand and fulfill your needs as a working professional, both in terms of granting you a sabbatical and the duration of your sabbatical.
For a tenured professor, sabbaticals will typically come as part of the work benefits included in reaching that status within the world of academia. This does not mean, however, that only academic professionals have the opportunity to take and greatly benefit from sabbatical leave.
Anyone who is living with the pressure of working life can greatly benefit from taking a sabbatical, whether you are an academic, a writer, a scholar, or another professional. Read our “Member Spotlight: Julie Peakman” article and find out how a sabbatical can inspire you!
Whether you are in academia, a creative field, the corporate or the nonprofit world, communication with your employer is key. Once you have thought through your ideal sabbatical, start the conversation with your boss or employer. As you discuss the parameters, try to stay flexible in response to their requests so you’ll end up with the win-win of your sabbatical leave plus their refreshed employee!
Related: Travel Resources for Professors
How to Ask For a Sabbatical
One of the advantages of being part of the scholarly world is that most schools, colleges or universities will typically offer paid or unpaid sabbaticals. Your sabbatical will have a greater academic purpose to it, and your organization will commonly want to see how that adds to value to your institution and to the world of academia as a whole
In essence, a sabbatical is earned; in most cases, you must have worked a certain number of years before being able to ask for your time off. It is also important for you to make yourself valuable before asking for a sabbatical.
If you are not in academia and your goal is to take a sabbatical within a specific year, it is important to do your research on your company’s policies concerning paid or unpaid leave.
Start with thinking about your life over the next couple of years and planning when you wish to go on sabbatical and what you want to accomplish. Carefully considering the timing, the focus and how that fits in with the rest of your personal and professional priorities will be invaluable when it’s time to communicate with your employer and department.
Open lines of communication between you and your employer will ensure that you both will have ample time to plan and make adjustments so your responsibilities will be handled during the time of your sabbatical. It may even open the door to others you work with planning their own sabbaticals in the future, and you would be a valuable resource to create smooth transitions in the workflow.
What to do on a Sabbatical
This is the most important question that you should ask yourself while planning your sabbatical. What should you do, and how can you make sure that you will gain the most out of your sabbatical?
If you are not pursuing a specific research project or book, you can approach your sabbatical in an unstructured manner, allowing you to wander, explore and embrace your potential destination without necessarily having specific goals in mind.
On the other hand, you may choose to begin your sabbatical by forming a to-do list of things that you wish to accomplish or specific things that you want to see, in order to enhance both your life and your career.
Additionally, you may wish to take a sabbatical to do first-hand research and write about your own personal experience. Whatever it is that you choose to do is entirely up to you, and that is the beauty of it.
Check out our article “5 Ways to Learn on the go” to read about possibilities of activities that you can accomplish and enjoy while on your sabbatical leave.
Some ideas of what to do on a sabbatical are:
- Boost your knowledge in a beautiful destination by getting lost in books for pleasure or academic purposes
- Travel, network and meet other academics
- Spend time with your loved ones and discover more about your personal roots and identity
- Write a research paper based on your own personal research and life experiences during your sabbatical
- Take a soul-searching trip and explore the world
- Take time to relax or meditate and explore more of where you currently live
- Discover yourself by learning something new, such as taking art or musical classes
- Develop your intellect through volunteer work
- Become one with nature by taking a trip to the countryside and explore a natural landscape- walk, jog, hike and be active
The list goes on!
It is up to you to make your desires a reality during your sabbatical. Here at Sabbatical Homes, we make sure that no matter what it is that you wish to accomplish during your sabbatical, you are able to have a trusted place to stay. Our platform has created a like-minded community to give you the opportunity to find temporary housing, rent out your own home and sometimes to make lifelong connections with the people you meet.
How to Plan a Sabbatical?
This is what SabbaticalHomes.com was designed for: to make sure that your sabbatical is as valuable to you as it can possibly be. We also want to make the planning and arrangements of your sabbatical simple, straightforward, stress-free and of course, exciting!
On our website, we have provided you with a guide called “5 Simple Steps to Get Started with Sabbatical Homes,” in which we explain the exact process of how we work. It covers everything, from how to create a Sabbatical Homes profile, how to create a listing, the difference between listing types, how to find a sabbatical home and how to find the appropriate tenant for you.
You’ll have the opportunity to discover a new place while meeting other scholarly professionals and creating new connections. You’ll make new friends and most importantly, during your sabbatical, stay in a home you found through a trusted community – and possibly find another member of the community to stay in your home. This is what we aim for here at Sabbatical Homes, and hope that your experience is as fruitful as can be.