Before every flight cabin crew at KLM hold a pre-flight briefing. Obviously, flight safety and security, and the specific details for that flight are discussed every time. But another – unwritten – purpose of these briefings, is to check out your colleagues, and find the spirit of this team that has never worked together in this particular composition.

The purser on my previous flight happened to have invented a very special way to build a team. At the end of the briefing, he handed a piece of paper to each of us. It was a voucher for a five minute ‘time-out’ to be used on either the outward or inbound flight. You could use your time-out voucher when dealing with an annoying passenger, a boring purser or colleague; if you were tired; having a bad day; if you were unhappy with your flight schedule, or any other reason.

Needless to say, this voucher caused great hilarity throughout the flight. We continually discussed whether a person or situation was worth a time-out. But we kept deciding that we would need the voucher more urgently on the long return night flight when we would be tired. But when we arrived back at Schiphol Airport two days later, it turned out that no one had needed to use their time-out. Furthermore, we had had a lot of fun, the teamwork was marvellous and the passengers left the plane with a smile on their faces.

I kept the voucher and showed it to my boyfriend. He loved it and said he would use it at his work in health care. I’m pretty sure that this idea of having the opportunity to have a little time-out every now and then will motivate everyone in any job. Actually, I wonder whether I could use it at home too…