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Three months off - every year: “The priceless resource called leisure“

Hasina Lakdawala's working time model is set up in such a way that she works for nine months and is free in the summer months from mid-June to mid-September. How does she do that?

4/4/2019 Editor Linda Gondorf Reading time: 3 Minutes
“She is never here in summer." The sentence is applicable to Hasina's working time model, as this allows Hasina to concentrate completely on her private activities for three months. No time pressure, no obligations. How is it possible? Let's take a look at the working time model:

It is summer in Italy and already it is pleasantly warm in the early morning. She puts her leather waistcoat over her T-shirt, as it gets much too hot for the black heavy leather jacket. A light aerodynamic helmet protects her curly hairstyle: The perfect day for a long tour on her Harley-Davidson. The brawny machine takes her from Venice to Ancona and over to Croatia. The route led her to Dubrovnik and then back via the Croatian islands to Austria. Past breathtaking mountain ranges perfect for cruising. It is a trip that Hasina Lakdawala will remember for years to come.
Last year, Hasina was on the road with her partner on the Harleys for four weeks. A journey she has wanted to do for a long time. Finally she has managed it. Before that, she spent four weeks getting prepared. Routes were selected and the motorcycles were brought into shape. After the trip, straight back to the office? Far from it: First of all Hasina wanted to relax, let the events sink in, review them, calm down. All this is only possible because Hasina has three months a year off every year.

What is her working time model?

"I've set up my working time model in such a way that I work here at OTTO for nine months and have time off during the summer months from mid-June to mid-September," she explains in Social Space during the interview. Hasina is a Divisional Assistant and is currently on her way to qualifying as an Agile Master. In Business Intelligence, OTTO's technology division, she will implement efficient and agile work and accompany the teams on a project-by-project basis.
Hasina has been working for the online retailer for over 27 years and was already a secretary in her twenties. "When I first started at OTTO, it was still common to wear classic women’s suits and court shoes. There were still typewriters and the internet had not been invented by that time. Smoking was allowed in the building. Then the boss looked over your shoulder holding a cigarette to see what you were working on. It is inconceivable today. Now I sit on a modern area, we do desk-sharing, I move around a lot in the building, we all use the familiar form of address and I have found the perfect work strategy for myself. I would say that it is all very positive." Hasina joined a conservative company at that time. In the past, for example, she would never have worn jeans. Not to mention getting three months off.

At the age of 35, the now 52-year-old took a break for two months, travelling with her backpack through Africa. At that time it was about using remaining holiday from the previous year, new holiday and overtime. After the journey, the young Hasina was shocked to discover that the time to retirement would still be 30 years. Gruesome. She needed a different working time model, wanted to live differently. “I decided even then to find another working model for myself by the time I reached 50. Preferably with several months of free time at a time. Just to be free and easy, as you used to feel during the big school summer holidays." Her dream of more leisure time and more travel.

Manage your work in such a way to suit your own life

"We've forgotten how to cope with ourselves in this fast-paced society." Hasina is a Divisional Assistant and is currently on her way to qualifying as an Agile Master.

Hasina Lakdawala

The motorcycle enthusiast has worked in a 75 percent job since 2015. How is it possible? She works full time for nine months, accumulating the time needed to then take three months off. 2019 is her fourth year based on this concept. Hasina's concept attracted the attention of her colleagues: Two secretaries shared a position at OTTO. One worked for three months and travelled for nine months, the other had three months off and worked for nine months. "I admire them both and have always said they should think of me when one of them leaves the company. And exactly that happened when the HR department approached me and asked whether I was interested in taking over the job." Of course Hasina was very interested and also the boss agreed with her as a replacement. It was then she knew she could finally live her model. "I smiled in the aftermath because I had actually planned to do this by 50 at the latest and then really put it into practice."

So what does she do in the three months?

Essentially, the three months are about relaxation, self-reflection, enjoying life, being mindful. Hasina does not always have to do something, but can also simply relax. " We have forgotten how to cope with ourselves in this fast-paced society. I had to learn that too and now I love it," she says. Finally leave the treadmill. Last year she and her boyfriend treated themselves to the big Harley trip from Italy to Croatia. A wish they both could finally fulfill.


Something new is on the agenda for this year: Instead of hiking the grand destinations such the Pilgrim's Way, it may be preferable to explore your homeland from another perspective for a change. She would like to hike the green belt around Hamburg on weekdays, where everyone else works. The distance is about 100 kilometres and she can do something together with her partner and friends at the weekend. "Of course I will be on the road a lot again, read a lot, continue with my qualifications and do yoga, but sometimes travelling together or meeting friends is better." Sometimes a tour here, sometimes a hike there. She is a person who needs to be on the move and loves communication, who consciously manages her life and the aspect of time. There is no other working time model at OTTO as Hasina has discovered for herself. She was already a pioneer with her time-out at the age of 35. Today she is a role model because you realize how much you can accomplish yourself by just asking. Hasina was also worried about the loss of earnings while fixed costs remained the same. Taking such a step and relinquishing the 100 percent position needs to be considered carefully. "Nevertheless, our time is limited and fortunately a lot has changed in companies over the years. People are interested in taking a break. So don't wait that long - get on and do it too", Hasina urges and laughs.

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