Have you heard about the newest workplace trend? Maybe not, because employees have been quiet about Hush Trips so far.
Hush Trips – when employees’ getaways overlap with their working hours and days, but they don’t tell you where they’re working and they allow time for exploring and relaxing – probably aren’t new in 2023.
But the word is out after remote and hybrid employees took these trips once the travel industry opened up fully post-pandemic.
Are there Hush Trip ramifications?
Early questions are:
- Are there employer ramifications to Hush Trips?
- Will trips affect employee productivity?
- How do Hush Trips affect employee experience and operations?
First off, companies and employees are still navigating how to get remote and hybrid work right. Hush Trips introduce another area to navigate. Now HR needs to consider employer risks and how you’ll responsibly handle legal, tax and compensation issues.
You might want to create guidelines around trip notifications and work expectations. You’ll definitely want to become more aware of tax, compensation and benefit laws that could be triggered when employees cross state lines and work.
As far as productivity and the experience, “COVID taught us that employees are capable of successfully doing their jobs in a remote environment,” says Jessica Kriegel, Chief Scientist of Workplace Culture at Culture Partners. “To retain talent today, companies must create a culture that develops the entire person – professionally and personally. Taking a Hush Trip may help in this culture by enhancing an employee’s morale and avoiding burnout while still being productive.”
So if you decide to accept that Hush Trips will happen – perhaps enough so employees don’t feel they need to be so quiet about where they’re going and what they’re doing – here’s what you need to know about the state of Hush Trips now:
Who’s taking Hush Trips?
So who’s taking the trips?
“Anyone who can get away with it!” Kriegel says.
The good news: Remote workers are 7% more likely to be more efficient than in-office workers, according to University of Chicago study. So Hush Trips shouldn’t adversely affect productivity.
Why are employees fibbing?
Why don’t employees just fess up that they’re not where you think they are?
“It’s not necessarily that employees are fibbing, it’s more appropriate to say employees are taking advantage of a remote work environment,” says Kriegel. “But if they are fibbing, it is because they don’t have the psychological safety with their boss to be straight forward.”
Should you worry about Hush Trips?
Rightfully, you might be concerned employees will become beach bums or snow slackers. But a Hush Trip might do more good than harm.
“As long as it doesn’t affect work performance, Hush Trips can be a great way for employees to enjoy new locations, avoid burnout and enhance their own mental health,” Kriegel says.
Why don’t they take real vacations?
Assuming employees have sufficient vacation time – and Hush Trips don’t interfere with their work – the change of scenery and step away from the norm on their own time might help with creativity and stress reduction.
“This approach still allows employees to take earned time off to unplug from work entirely and recharge their mind, body and spirit,” says Kriegel. “This can have long-term benefits for companies as it can help retain top talent and make them most efficient.”
Where are employees going?
Hush Trips tend to be brief stints and not too far from home/office.
“Many of our customers are taking trips within driving distance of their homes, with a few flying to their destinations,” says Brandon Ezra, CEO of Grand Welcome. “A few of our popular destinations such as Lake Tahoe, Florida and Colorado have seen an influx of guests this time of year.”
Can they really get work done?
Don’t worry, most people can get plenty of work done on their Hush Trips.
“We have seen guests either create makeshift workstations or book properties with designated offices to ensure they are able to ‘work and play,'” says Ezra. “Many of our property owners have created office spaces for guests to utilize and offer office supplies and Wi-Fi so they can connect to work when necessary.”
Lessons from a (not-so) Hush Trip
If Hush Trips are already happening in your company, or you expect them to catch on, here are some real-life tips to help employees make the most of the trip.
My friend took a Hush Trip before it was “a thing.” His wasn’t exactly hush. His boss knew the plan, but he didn’t tell colleagues about his plan to set up near a beach for a month. If it came up, he told them, though.
Here’s a brief roundup of what worked well for my friend and his wife (who normally works in an office, and for the first time ever, worked remotely):
- Confirm your legalities. My friend checked in with HR (remember, it wasn’t a full Hush Trip) to be certain the legal bases were covered as far as taxation, PTO and compensation. They worked together to eliminate employer risk. In some cases, they had to drill down to state laws and local ordinances to be sure they were in compliance.
- Check equipment before you go. He also touched base with his IT team before he set up shop on his trip. He checked if he needed additional equipment or to take extra security measures for working outside his established remote office. His wife did remote testing on her new and established equipment from home, while she was still near her office and could work out glitches, before the trek.
- Create an office space. Once they settled into their beach digs, they each set up folding tables in different areas of the house. They made sure they had plenty of space for their computers, monitors, keyboards, calendars, files and everything else they’d normally need at arm’s length. The office space helped them separate work from the fun of vacation each day.
- Keep a routine. As much as possible, they kept regular schedules, waking early for their regular work time zone so they could hit the beach later, if possible.
- Stay in touch. They attended regularly scheduled Zoom meetings and touched base with a colleague or employee almost every day so they never fell out of the loop and could stay on top of anything that might become pressing.
- Be willing to work outside the norm. They also worked some weekend and evening hours to maintain their normal cadence – and even get ahead. That way, if they had visitors, decided to capitalize on a beautiful day or do something spontaneous during normal work hours, they could – assuming there wasn’t a pressing work issue, of course. Again, they found out it was important to check in with HR on this: If the beach time outran the work time on one day, it was often PTO-worthy.