Is a Working Sabbatical Your Entry to The ‘Modern-Day Nomad’ Life?

Photo: jpmatth via Flickr
Photo: jpmatth via Flickr

Modern-Day Nomads are a diverse group. Whether they are early career explorers, seeking their place in the world, mid-career millennials looking for alternatives to corporate living, or even those later down the career path, searching for meaning and balance, they are united by a desire to discover, and an inclination towards a life down the path less trodden.

But, as rich and diverse, as the Modern-Day Nomad community is, the fact is that for every one bold pioneer who sets off down this road, there are dozens more with the same desire to discover, the same inclination to explore, who never make it. There is, after all, a whole world of ‘buts’ which can make the journey seem impossible – from the need for stability and security, to the lack of savings which makes change feel risky, and the fear of setting off on your dream, only to have it become a nightmare.

If you fall into this ‘wait and see’ or ‘I’d love to, but…’ group of would-be nomads, then there is another way. Have you considered a working sabbatical?

Why sabbatical?

If the idea of sabbaticals has you thinking of pipe-smoking, tweed-clad academics, then you may be surprised to learn that sabbaticals and career breaks are fairly common employee benefits, across a whole range of sectors, for both public and private companies. The reason is simple: more employees than ever are seeking different experiences, variety and challenge during the course of their working life. Businesses know this, and given the investment made in talented employees, would rather offer a career break opportunity than risk their prize employees leaving as an alternative. It is, after all, likely to be the most ambitious, open-minded and proactive of employees who would seek new challenges – exactly those a business should cherish and keep hold of.

Once the principle of a career break has been established, it is easy to see increased benefits for both the employee and employer. For the employee, it is the opportunity to relax and recharge with the knowledge that there is a position open ‘at home’ awaiting their return. For the business, holding a great employee they might otherwise lose is one thing, but even better, the sabbatical, can even present an opportunity to grow and develop another employee into the vacant role, supporting the talent pipeline.

Sabbatical or Jobbatical?

So sabbaticals are a great chance to relax and recharge, broaden the horizons, explore new places and meet new people. But what about doing all that, and being paid?

This is where the concept of a working sabbatical comes into its own. For many people, a sabbatical is completely possible, but feels unfeasible because of the costs. So how about, instead of sitting on a beach for your break, you take the time to dive into a new business, tackle new challenges or projects, learn new skills and business cultures, and experience a new place through the eyes of a local. Baltic startup company, Jobbatical, are creating a marketplace to help bring together businesses seeking short-term talent, and those individuals considering a working career break, and helping to spring board a whole group of would-be nomads into a no risk try out of the nomadic life. By pairing businesses looking for project support, with professionals seeking new challenges – invariably in interesting, inspiring and aspirational locations, Jobbatical is disrupting the 9-to-5 world of work, and opens up an interesting new avenue for many.

So if your ‘I’d love to, but…’ focuses on – wholly understandable – concerns around money, career and keeping a door open at home if needed, a working sabbatical might be a great way to dip a toe into a new life, and see if it quenches, or increases, your yearning for adventure!

Claire Millard is a freelance writer and coach, currently taking a working sabbatical in Tallinn, Estonia, after ten years in senior leadership roles in retail and HR. When she is not coaching, or writing at Jobbatical or Careeraddict, you might find her bonding with her Estonian friends by murdering their native tongue and moaning about the weather.

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