Hush trips — working remotely from a different location than disclosed — is a new trend. Since many aspects of remote work have yet to be polished (including contract types, taxes and limitations), remote workers tend to keep quiet about them working from elsewhere.
What's the Big Deal?
First of all, it shouldn't make much of a difference where the employee is located as long as the job quality doesn't suffer.
“It's kind of showing that our work culture is just getting more comfortable with this type of work environment, which is to work from wherever you have a strong WiFi connection. “There really are no limitations as long as you are getting your job done, doing it to the best of your ability and making sure that nothing is slipping through the cracks.”
Maddi Bourgerie, Director of Communications at RVshare.
Secondly, with many businesses failing at trying to avoid burnout, hush trips seem like a good alternative. The practice doesn't necessarily involve exotic locations; more often than not, people take a short trip to a location they feel relaxed at that's not far away from their home.
Breaking the Mold: How Hush Trips Challenge Traditional Work Paradigms
It wasn't that long ago that strict office hours were a norm. With the introduction of hybrid work models, employees have more alternatives to choose from.
Hush trips can actually boost employee productivity, as they allow people to unwind. To be sure, they challenge the core of conventional work paradigms but that doesn't make them necessarily undesirable.
From Desk to Destination: How Hush Trips Reshape Remote Work
As a matter of fact, hush trips count as both work and leisure, making people enjoy their work for once. They allow people to find the much-needed balance — the practice impossible to imagine only a couple of years back.
Keeping in mind that digital nomadism is appealing to more and more people, hush trips can provide a glimpse into the lifestyle. Actually, they're already being labeled “employee nomading.” Unlike the first, the latter is far cheaper and accessible to every remote worker. Even if it's a short trip to a secluded café, it makes a whole lot of difference from a stiff home office.
Workation Vs. Hush Trips
Hush trips may be workations on a smaller scale. However, while the latter is more or less established, the first is often frowned upon.
As an illustration, Bloomberg published an article recently, labeling remote workers practicing hush trips “stealth workers.”
It only goes to deepen the mistrust, for no apparent reason.
Many remote workers say that the practice helps them feel better — physically and mentally — so it would seem that hush trips do need to be defined, established, and accepted.
The Traveling Professional: Embracing Hush Trips as the New Norm
Will hush trips become a new norm?
It's difficult to say. With so many ‘new norms' being promoted left and right, who is to say whether hush trips will join the trend?
However, since remote workers enjoy the practice, perhaps the ‘hush' part needs to be redefined. Is there really a single reason why managers should care about the location their employees are at as long as they're overperforming?
According to Upaway founder and CEO, Kayla Glanville, hush trips show “misalignment between management and employees.”
“It generally shows a larger problem with psychological safety and trust. Hush trips are only hush because there is an element of secrecy and mistrust.”
Still, there's one significant part to consider — data security. If employees are using public WiFi, certain risks are likely to emerge.
Amber Clayton, senior director of knowledge center operations at the Society for HR Management thinks that employers should be notified if their workers are practicing hush trips, to prevent potential data leaks. She even suggests that HR departments set up relevant procedures to address the practice.”
Beyond Boundaries: How Do Hush Trips Affect Hybrid Routines?
In 2022, one in 10 workers embarked on a hush trip, according to a survey undertaken by Price 4 Limo. 27% of them did so because they didn't want to use their PTO/vacation days.
Does this count as cheating, as per Bloomberg's definition?
To answer that, we need to take a look at some stats. Resume Builder has surveyed 916 Gen Zs aged 18 to 26 and here are the most significant findings:
- 44% have taken a hush trip
- 57% gave the impression they still worked normal hours
- 65% used a virtual background to trick employers
- 51% took a hush trip because a vacation request was denied
- 27% took a hush trip because they had no PTO
- 20% took a hush trip because they didn't want to use PTO
- One-third worked two hours or less a day
- Most of them weren't found out
As you can see, there's plenty of tricking involved, so the right question is whether establishing HR routines tackling the trend is the way to go about hush trip standardization.
Why Hush Trips Should be Encouraged
Presently, hush trips are somewhat stigmatized. As is usual with the realm of hybrid work (many best practices are still being defined, the trend being relatively new and all), the trend is predominantly observed as negative.
The right question here is why remote employees would need to hide their whereabouts? As we've seen, the matter of mistrust is central and is closely followed by PTO issues.
Let's put it this way. For hush trips to be beneficial for both employers and employees, there are three steps to undertake:
- HR departments need to establish appropriate procedures addressing all potential issues (data security, tax conundrums, work schedules, etc.) so that ‘hush' can be left out of the equation
- Businesses should work on establishing a prosperous work culture built on trust
- Employees should be given an adequate number of PTO days so that they don't need to hide their whereabouts
Will Hush Trips Become a Norm?
While it's evident that more and more employees (especially younger ones) are already benefiting from hush trips, stats about their older colleagues used to different routines are still slim.
It would be reasonable to speculate that — given that the boundaries of the office walls are already a thing of the past — hush trips can be added to remote work routines.
However, some companies (including industry leaders) seem to be already doubting their remote work policies. Just recently, Google called their remote employees to reconsider switching from fully remote to hybrid. “Our offices are where you'll be most connected to Google's community” were the exact words used, which doesn't seem like the happiest of solutions to deepening trust.
Until the time comes when employers put employee well-being on top of their priorities, the “stealth” routine is likely to continue thriving.