When you read about our culture on our website, you’ll find these words: “There is a current that runs through all of us. It’s fed by our excitement for each other’s ideas and our cheering for other’s successes.”
This is true. And it’s wonderful.
But we’d be missing a critical truth if we didn’t reflect on what that current can mean. We are a team of high-horsepower individuals who are devoted to our collective mission. It’s hard for most of us to take time off and wholly disengage.
It’s also true that our work involves extremely challenging problem solving and invention. A lot of what we do is going to be successful, but also a lot will not. It’s an intellectually rigorous and emotionally demanding process that calls for an ability to sustain one’s energy and focus.
“Everyone here wants to push the work further. We say, ‘We got these good results. Let's keep going.’ There's an excitement around that. But also, probably, we work too hard.” - Anastasia Lymar, Scientist
Because of this, we have always prioritized meaningful time away from our work. In addition to our three weeks of vacation for every team member, we shut the company down completely for a week in December and another one in July. Different from personal vacation time, our shutdowns compel us to disconnect fully and completely—because we’re all in it together. There are no advancements we might miss. No new data we’re tempted to peek at. No questions we’re drawn to answer.
“Shutting down is not easy. We always want to push something forward. But when it's from the leadership and Geoff (McDonough) says, “Yep, we're done. Please stop,” then everybody follows. It's kind of the only way it works.” - Dan Macri, Scientist
During the shutdowns, we travel. We spend time with family, friends, and pets. We read, paint, go to the beach, or just spend centered time alone. Aside from a couple of people tending to the cells or other matters that absolutely cannot be left alone, what none of us are doing is working.
Throughout the year, we encourage every member of our team to take the time they need to stay balanced, but our shutdowns are a collective pause that allows us to completely reset and refresh, then come back to our work together with increased clarity and more focused purpose.
They are also strategically placed. December is a very natural psychological break when people look to take stock, refresh mentally, and set new goals for the year ahead. Putting another break at July 4th offers us the opportunity for the same process in the middle of the year. We step back and appraise our first six months—where we stand personally and as teams, and where we are in relation to our stated goals for the year. We realign where necessary and set our objectives for the remainder of the year.
“When teams get back together, we recheck in. Where are we at? Our objectives—are they still the same? Maybe we've learned something that creates new space or identifies a need we weren't really thinking about.” – Jacki LaFrance, Director, GxP Quality Systems and Compliance
This collective refocus also creates a unified rhythm to our work. The week before the shutdown is spent getting things organized and in a good stopping place. The weeks after tend to be filled with taking stock of what we now observe through clearer eyes—recognizing what was working and what wasn’t. These shutdowns have brought forth some profound realizations that have helped us make meaningful changes.
“Those first few weeks back, there is an energy surge, absolutely. But there is also a powerful calm as we start anew.” – Geoff McDonough, Chief Executive Officer
This year’s July shutdown may be particularly significant. Burnout rates are high all over the country, and we are no exception. It has been a challenging time for many of us individually, as well as a year in which we’ve made great strides as a company. While many on our team may be tempted to forge ahead to meet that next milestone or get that next result, it’s more important than ever that we are diligent in our practice to break away. To recenter and reset.
At our core, Generation Bio is 100% the product of what each of us is willing and able to bring to the company. If any of us are running on empty or not having that time to think or recharge—if we are becoming disconnected from things at home or elsewhere in our lives—not only is that detrimental to us as humans, but we also aren’t working optimally as a team. For that collective current to continue to run through all of us, we have to honor and nurture the individual current that runs through us each.