'Hush vacations' trend as remote workers slip off for travel getaways without telling the boss

Remote workers seem to have lots of perks these days, including a commute-less job, a favorable work-life balance and the ability to save on a business wardrobe and other previously needed requirements for jobs. 

But beyond saving time and money in a remote arrangement, some workers are finding new ways to stretch the work-at-home privilege by taking days off without officially clearing their paid time off as vacation days. 

The “hush-cation” trend may seem amusing to some — but the consequences of this deceptive practice can have a lasting impact.

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Here’s a deeper dive into the “hush cation” trend. 

“Hush-cations” have been trending across social media and in popular culture.

“People are often bending the rules by continuing to work remotely as agreed upon, but not from the remote location their boss expects them to be,” said Smriti Joshi, chief psychologist with Wysa in Boston. 

“This phenomenon, not feasible prior to the onset of fully remote jobs, is presenting a new challenge for employers and is also quite telling of what employees are feeling they need right now.”

It’s a desire for autonomy, flexibility and control over their work environment, combined with a need to feel safe while asking for time off, that is leading to trends like this, Joshi told Fox News Digital. 

“Especially as many large organizations have begun to call workers back into the office, there’s a pervasive sense that the freedoms of working flexibly could soon be diminished,” she noted. 

To that point, Joshi said employees feel passionately about their right to work under their terms and see where they work as a decision they should have control over. 

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“Hush-cations in that sense may be a way of quietly battling back against their employer, or attempting to assert that control back to themselves,” she said.

Lauren, 29, a graphic designer in Florida, told Fox News Digital that she’s taken “hush vacation” days here and there, but is still contemplating whether she’s going to come clean to her employer about her upcoming trip plans. 

“I have taken a day off to move a friend or for a mental health day, and didn’t tell my boss that I was really off,” said Lauren, who has chosen to use her first name only for privacy reasons. 

“In July, I plan to take a few long weekends and I don’t think I am going to use official vacation days. Since I work from home, or anywhere else, I feel like as long as I do my job I can bank my vacation days until I want to officially use them.”

A lot of today’s career trends, including hush-cations, quiet quitting and other buzzy concepts, said Joshi, tie back to a similar issue: Employees are stressed out. 

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“They’re looking for ways to relieve the pressure they’re feeling at work and at times are getting pretty creative with how to do that,” Joshi told Fox News Digital. 

“These trends underscore the need for organizations to prioritize mental health and well-being initiatives, challenging the stigma surrounding discussions about mental health in the workplace.”

Rosencrans said it’s all about the attention paid on social media.

“As we’ve seen with other workplace trends like this, once it starts getting talked about, the more it inspires others to follow suit,” she said.

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“Especially with the summer coming up, I anticipate we’ll see an uptick in hush-cations with people wanting to take advantage of warmer weather while conserving vacation days for other peak seasons like Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

To that point, Lauren, the “hush-cationer,” shared that in addition to non-reported summer escapes, she has other PTO dupe plans regarding banking her vacation days for later in the year.  

“I plan to use my two-week official vacation for a trip to later in the year,” she confided. 

“I don’t feel bad about doing this, as many people take sick days off when they aren’t really sick. This is a new version of an old hooky tactic.”

If managers find out someone on their team took PTO and didn’t officially take off, the manager should speak to the employee for clarification, experts advise.

A first step is to ask an employee directly what they were doing on the days in question, and explain it was brought to their attention that the person was not working but was instead on vacation, said Annie Rosencrans, people & culture director, Americas at HiBob in New York. 

“Seeing how an employee responds is important, as it can indicate whether this is a pattern, a mistake or an intentional move to take extra time off,” she said.

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Following that, Rosencrans said managers can note they are aware of the time off taken, remind the employees of the time-off policy, and make sure it is added to the company’s system as PTO. 

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