A few decades ago, the idea of working while on vacation may have seemed absurd and contradictory, but the digital age has made working while taking time off not only accepted, but encouraged in some industries.
With the rise of remote work, doing a little bit of work during downtime is more common than ever. In fact, 67% of Americans say their work and leisure time has blended in the past few years, according to a new study from JobSage, and nearly one in three Americans (29%) plan to take a workcation this year.
The what, how and why of workcations
Workcations are pretty self-explanatory: an employee doing work while on a vacation, whether it be working with a laptop on the beach or taking meetings in a hotel room.
Over half (59%) of Americans don’t like the idea of a workcation, yet 47% have reported taking one because they couldn’t take time off.
Plus, even those who don’t take workcations are guilty of working on their time off, such as:
- Working during a regular vacation (81%)
- Checking work-related apps on vacation out of habit (72%), and
- Working from a plane, car or train on the way to or from a vacation (64%).
Although employees reported motivating factors for taking a workcation such as “good for my health” (34%), “enabling more travel” (29%) and “good for my work” (25%), the report showed that colleagues have a more negative view of those taking workcations.
Sixty-seven percent assume that co-workers who are taking a workcation aren’t working as hard. However, when talking about themselves, 62% said they can maintain a high quality of work on a workcation.
More workers who took vacations in 2022 reported doing some work on vacation (54%) than those who did no work on vacation (47%).
What should HR do?
In short, if workcations work for employees and for employers, then there’s nothing that HR needs to do about it. However, consider these key factors to understand if workcations could be indicative of a larger problem.
- Legal: If employees are taking vacations and continuing to work without notifying HR – so-called “Hush Trips” – it could spell trouble on the legal side for employers when it comes to state laws and regulations. Make sure that employees taking workcations in different states are complying with all laws.
- Culture: According to JobSage’s report, many employees report taking workcations due to not being able to take time off, or it being easier than taking time off. This could indicate a larger problem within the company culture that discourages employees to take true time off to completely unplug from work.
- Productivity: Obviously, working on vacation comes with a lot of distractions. It’s important to ensure that productivity stays high if employees are still on the clock … even when they’re on the beach.