Hush trips are the latest trend hitting employers. These are trips to vacation destinations taken by remote workers who don’t tell their boss they are changing location and don’t book annual leave when they go.
The remote worker will apparently put in the hours and remain productive but they plan on enjoying leisure activities in their downtime.
Should you worry about this trend or embrace it? If you are an employer who doesn’t really know where your remote workers are, if you have questions about productivity…the concept of hush trips will probably have you breaking out in a cold sweat…
Breach of Trust
The biggest concern with a hush trip is the secrecy. Why has an employee not told or discussed this with their employer. Why lie?
Remote working is common place. Yes, debate rages about productivity, team work and employee engagement…but remote working exists. Furthermore, awful jargon has been created to explain remote working in far flung places; ‘Workation’ or ‘Bleasure’!
The key difference with a hush trip and a workation is the latter involves no deception. The employee has agreed that while sat poolside…they will during working hours be hit with phone calls, emails, zoom meetings and anything else that their day-to-day remote job involves. They won’t be drunk from the resort’s lunchtime ‘happy hour’, they won’t be talking to clients while slot machines ring out in casinos and they won’t be doing zoom meetings while playing beach volleyball!! The employee will be focused and professional regardless of their surroundings. That is the deal and that is the expectation.
Hush trips are a deception and that is the crux of the problem. It then raises the question of whether the employee is doing any work at all or whether they are trying to get away with the absolute minimum!
If a manager discovers that deception there is naturally a breakdown in trust. Furthermore, colleagues may feel upset that someone is taking unfair advantage of remote working and are having more vacation time than they are. That builds resentment within the team.
The Benefits of a Hush Trips
Experts have tried to explain the benefits of hush trips. They argue these trips can increase creativity, improve production, lift morale, benefit mental health and help employees find a work-life balance. Wow – sign me up!
Problem is I think that is complete nonsense!
To take a hush trip is to live a double life. Everyone at work thinks you are sat in your home office experiencing what they are experience. The employee has the stress of trying to constantly deceive those you are interacting with.
I’ll also throw-in that I would not feel any motivation to open my laptop when the family are asking if we can go down to the beach! It is not happening! I mean that is me, I spend too much time at work and going away should in my mind be quality time with those I love.
What so called experts are confused with is the terminology. Sure, an argument can be made that a workation could be beneficial. However, lying to your employer and living a double life…sounds about as relaxing as cleaning the reptile enclosure at the local zoo.
The Problem With a Hush Trip
Put aside the trust issues. Forget about the worker productivity question. Don’t begin debating whether a work-life balance is about reading emails from a sunbed. There are some even more serious issues for an employer to consider.
Remote working from airports, train stations or any public WiFi can open an organisation to cyber attacks and viruses. If a cyber attack can cripple a large bank it can certainly bring an SME to its knees.
There is a risk that employees breach local tax and employment laws. Plus, there is the problem that employers do have a responsibility towards a worker’s health and safety. That becomes difficult when the worker hasn’t communicated where they are.
What about all that unused annual leave? If workers have a hush trip planned this summer, they may not actually be taking any annual leave…is the worker about to defraud their employer? Are organisations paying out on holiday buy-back schemes when they shouldn’t be?
I think the above scenarios give your average HR department a full-blown migraine…and they’ll be the ones demanding a holiday.
Are Hush Trips the Future?
Is this latest trend about to become common practice? I am boldly going to say no. A trend involving lies has no place in the clean-cut and transparent world we currently operate in. Okay, maybe it will continue to exist in a way that other deviant behaviours can malinger in society, but I do not see this as an everyday occurrence. This is just a knock-on from remote working. Employees are starting to push the boundaries and employers need to decide where they go with it.
Hush trips right now tend to be short in nature (just a few days) and are actually close to a workers original location. The image of someone snatching a quick three weeks away in The Med with the family while pretending to be working is probably an exaggeration.
What I do see is more discussion between employee and employer and workations becoming more common. It will even cut both ways. Employers can always have an important zoom meetings they want workers involved in. Maybe the scenario of “the family want to travel out early and I can work from there.”
The trend, if anything, is likely to be a continuing blend of holiday and business time…Bleasure!!!! There will be more discussions about working remotely in a place that is not your home. But, I do not see an overall increase in dishonesty and deception. In turn, the trend to discuss productivity, team work and engagement of remote workers will continue.
Many of us are hybrid or remote workers. These working arrangements have developed thanks to technology, continuing productivity and trust between employee and employer. Hush trips are in a sense a natural evolution to that remote working arrangement. Some employees are wanting to push the boundaries but are maybe not going about it in the best way.
However, the dishonesty and deception of a hush trip is where the problems arise. If an employee is deceptive about their location, are they deceptive about productivity and everything else work related?
Rather than taking a hush trip, discuss taking a workation. Employers then have some decisions to make…but at least it not a decision about a breach of trust and a dishonest employee!
About The Author
Simon Royston is the founder and Managing Director of The Recruitment Lab (A recruitment agency with offices in Aldershot and Brighton that offers employment services across Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and beyond). Simon lives in Guildford and has worked in Recruitment for over a decade. He has a degree and a masters in psychology as well as a diploma in Human Resource Management. If you would like to know more about anything written in this blog or would simply like to express your own thoughts and opinions do not hesitate to contact Simon through The Recruitment Lab website.