Emily Smith was working two jobs – one at a hotel and one at a retail store – when she realized she desperately needed a break. Smith, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, says her employer didn’t usually accept her vacation days, so she invented a fake family emergency, claiming she would need to work from home. Instead, she went to Las Vegas.
“I had meetings poolside, and I timed my flights to be outside work hours,” she says. “All my work was done on time so none of my bosses ever asked.”
That was in 2012, when most jobs demanded in-person attendance. Nearly 10 years later, more people are working remotely (or poolside like Smith). According to data from the US Census Bureau released in 2022, more than 27.6 million people worked primarily from home in 2021. This is triple the number of people working from home in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.
also with the rise of remote work, some employees hesitate or do not feel the need to tell their employers when they plan to work from another location outside their home. So they’ve started taking “hush trips,” where employees commute to work from a vacation destination without disclosing their true whereabouts to their boss. Often, these employees take advantage of leisure activities during their vacation time, combining work and play in one trip,
Recreational vehicle rental website RVShares launched a survey conducted by Wakefield Research about hush trips and other travel trends in September 2022. According to the survey, 56% of working-age American adults said they were “very” or “extremely” likely to participate. a quiet trip. And 36% of Generation X and Millennials claim to already have a plan in place for 2023.
For employers who are stingy about vacation days, silent trips can provide rejuvenation. However, some employers disapprove of privacy and don’t want employees anywhere other than their home office, period. But does it matter if employees share their whereabouts?
Problems That Can Happen With Hush Trips
Amy Marcum, human resources manager for HR service provider Insperity, warns that hush trips can lead to controversy if the word gets out.
“Some employees may feel that their colleagues are taking advantage of lenient work-from-home policies, which leads to conflict,” she says.
Executive coach Robin Pou points to another negative consequence: a breakdown of trust between employees and managers.
“The leader always finds out, making them wonder why the employee was trying to hide something in the first place,” he says. “This erosion of trust can be a cancer to team dynamics.”
Lisa M. Sanchez, a human resources executive at the ArtCenter College of Design, says she doesn’t believe that employees are effective during secret visits.
“Who’s motivated to work out when there’s a turquoise beach and fruity drink waiting for them?” Sanchez says. “What does one do if they are called to an urgent emergency meeting and they are on a flight?”
Then there are also the security concerns about bringing employer-issued computers out of town or logging onto unknown Wi-Fi networks. Also, there can be unexpected tax implications for employers if workers are working from another state or country for too long.
Why Hush Trips Aren’t Necessarily a Bad Thing
The whole premise of hush travel can help to initiate problems in the workplace.
“Leaders need to look at themselves in the mirror and wonder what kind of environment they’ve created where their team members don’t feel comfortable interacting directly with them,” Pou says.
Business and leadership coach Mariela de la Mora says that needing to know where employees are at all times is “unnecessary at best, patronizing at worst.” She says some of her best coworkers were permanent digital nomads.
“Remote work only boosted their productivity and dedication to their role,” she says. “This is especially important when you employ Gen Z and younger millennials who value and expect independence in their roles – and who simply won’t follow policies that feel outdated.”
How employers can better support employees who want to travel
Whether pro- or anti-hush travel, there’s one thing nearly everyone agrees on: Time off is important.
“A change of location can spark new ideas, increase productivity, improve morale, produce higher quality work, and improve work-life balance,” says Markum.
Sanchez says employers should give employees clear opportunities to rest.
“Don’t unreasonably deny time off, don’t make it a 24/7 on-the-clock piece, and avoid engaging employees after work hours,” she says.
As for Smith, she’s since quit those two jobs, and is now her own boss. She runs a travel planning company called The Female Abroad. But she says even if she has to report to someone else, she’s pro-Hush Trip.
This article was written by NerdWallet and originally published by The Associated Press.
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