Self-management & why we self-approve time off work at Livit

We’ve all been there: penciled in dates with family and friends, calculated the number of days, then carefully completed a leave request form. Once submitted to management, we’ve all waited anxiously for our leave to be approved and breathed a sigh of relief when it comes through — or been painfully disappointed when it hasn’t. But at Livit, this often angst-ridden process is a thing of the past.

We don’t do management the traditional way, and a big part of this is encouraging work-life balance and allowing our team members to manage their allocated annual leave independently. Forms don’t need to be filled, holidays don’t need to be given the stamp of approval by senior management — our team members are simply entrusted with the responsibility of providing their colleagues with sufficient notice and ensuring days off don’t create bottlenecks or disrupt deliverables.

Consideration is key

Most traditional companies expect their employees to request time off and wait for the approval of a relevant manager. Managers usually decline a vacation request based on the following reasons:

  1. The absence interferes with an important meeting, workshop, deadline or similar.
  2. Too many other teammates are taking vacation around the same time, so there isn’t enough manpower in the team to cover the work or shifts needed.
  3. Sufficient notice was not given.
  4. The employee does not have enough Paid Time Off remaining. 

Now, how does that fit with Livit being a self-managed environment? 

We believe everyone is an adult and is fully capable of planning and “approving” their own days off, announce and record the leave days via our internal systems, based on the same criteria a manager would. So team members can go ahead and do just that. The only thing left after that is to enjoy their time off and digital detox as much as possible. 

However, if a team member’s planned days off do interfere with an important deadline, leave the team strained at a busy time, or weren’t announced with sufficient notice, their colleagues or team lead have good reason to overrule or veto the leave days. It is testament to the strength of this policy that in the last decade, we have only experienced two cases in which this has occurred — and in both instances, the team members improved their performance after being asked to reconsider their days off.  

The policy of self-approving leave requires each team member to carefully manage their own workload, be highly considerate of others, and communicate clearly and openly — which are the cornerstones of the flat hierarchy structure that Livit embraces. 

Flat hierarchies are built on respect and communication 

A flat hierarchy is one in which authority and decision-making are distributed rather than centralized. However, this doesn’t mean Livit is a consensus-driven company. While team members are strongly encouraged to provide feedback and share opinions, ultimately it is up to each person to decide on the matter at hand that is within their domain and scope of accountability, after they have considered the input and feedback of their colleagues. 

In a dynamic, remote-capable, flexible setup such as ours, the ability to manage yourself, organize your work, be self-driven and self-motivated is essential. Inspired by leading software company Basecamp, we encourage everyone at Livit to think of themselves as a manager of one:

 “A manager of one is someone who doesn’t need heavy direction. They don’t need daily check-ins. They do what a manager would do — set the tone, assign items, determine what needs to get done, etc. — but they do it by themselves and for themselves.” 

As a manager of one, each Livit team member is empowered to manage their work-life balance independently while simultaneously supporting their colleagues. It’s all part of being a people-first company, where our company culture and values are seen as strategic assets, and our team’s happiness is one of the key indicators of our success.


Managing Partner at Livit, #futureofwork enthusiast
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