“Sorry, what was that? I couldn't hear you over the sound of the waves!”
The pandemic changed the working world forever. Yes, when we shut our doors and committed ourselves to months in lockdown, workplaces had to adapt. The solution that many businesses adopted was simple: home working. Surprisingly, it worked out well.
Now that lockdowns are a thing of the past and we can readily be around other people again (woohoo!), this working structure has lingered like a hangover. According to the latest government statistics, 24% of British workers have a hybrid job while 14% are permanently WFH. This newfound flexibility has made space for a new workplace trend.
Say hello to hush trips - the sneaky approach to travel that's certain to irk your manager. If you haven't heard of them yet, you've come to the right place. In this guide, we'll take a look at what hush trips are, why they're popular, and the professional alternative.
What are hush trips, anyway?
Let's say you're a WFH or hybrid worker, but your company has a written, or unwritten, rule: that you can't work from just anywhere. The expectation is clear to everyone. When you're working from home, you should be literally working from your home.
However, you fancy setting up a temporary desk on a beach in Hawaii and don't want to ask permission from your manager. That's what hush trips are all about. You go ahead and work from wherever you please, without telling your company that you're away. Rather than jumping through hoops, filling in forms, and asking your manager if you have the right to work in a different location, you simply do it. It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.
The rebel inside you might think that your boss has no business knowing where in the world you're working from. After all, as long as you get the job done, what should it matter to them? That's all well and good… except that not knowing where employees are can lead to legal and tax issues for a business. And with over two-thirds of employees failing to let their managers know when they work from a new location, it can be a real minefield.
The reasons people take hush trips
Okay, now that you know what hush trips are, let's talk about why people take them. Going by the book, and asking your manager whether you can work from anywhere, is the best way to make sure that you're not breaking any rules or laws. However, as the stats show, there are still many of us who are willing to risk it all for a quick break. Here are three reasons:
To avoid an awkward conversation
Chatting to your boss about anything out of the ordinary may send shivers down your spine. Like it or lump it, finding out whether you can work from a holiday destination means that you're asking a favour. Your boss doesn't have to say “yes,” and you know it. If you don't have the best relationship with your manager, you may want to avoid this conversation.
Because it's a last-minute trip
We all have busy lives and things crop up unexpectedly. You might be invited on a last- minute minibreak to Portugal or an off-the-cuff trip to France. If you haven't had much prior warning about these trips, you might not have the time to fill your boss in on the finer details. If that's the case, taking hush trips may not seem like such a big deal anyhow.
In case the answer is “no”
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons that people take hush trips is because they know - deep down in their souls - that the answer would be “no.” Your workplace may have already sent out guidance about what WFH means to them, for example. Alternatively, you may have got the vibe that working from random locations is unacceptable. Whatever the case, people often choose to take hush trips because they feel they have no other choice.
How to speak to your manager about going away
Sure, hush trips may sound exciting but they're a dangerous game to play. Should your manager find out that you've been less-than-honest about where you're working, you may find that you face a formal disciplinary or, at the very least, a stern talking to.
Either way, it's an awkward outcome that you want to avoid. As with all things in the working world, honesty is the best policy. So, how can you speak to your manager about the option of working from other places? Luckily, we've got you covered here. Check out our tips:
Check the company guidelines first
Before you schedule a chat with your manager, refer back to the company guidelines. What do they say about working from home? Is there any mention of what you can and can't do? Do the guidelines explicitly state that you need to be working from your home or in the UK? Reading up on the rules will put you in the best position to have this talk.
Be honest with your manager
There's no point in beating around the bush here. Be completely transparent with your manager about where you plan to go, how long you'll be staying, and where you'll be working from. Have you looked into coworking spaces near the location? Will you be staying at a friend's place, an Airbnb, or a hotel? Will you have a private WiFi connection? These are all questions that you can expect to answer when you have this talk.
Work with them to find a solution
Your manager needs certain things from you. Perhaps they need you to be available online between 9 AM and 5 PM GMT. That seems fair. Maybe they need you to dial in for the weekly Zoom meeting. Whatever their criteria, you need to hear them out. Explain how you plan to meet their needs while you're away. The more thought you've given to this in advance, the easier it will be to convince them. Show them that you're one step ahead.
Be prepared to accept defeat
Spoiler: Managers don't have to let you work from faraway lands. While the idea of sipping a piña colada while you work from a tropical island may sound tempting, it's not a given. If your boss says that it won't work for the company, you're going to have to accept that.
Hush trips are a growing trend but that doesn't mean that you should jump aboard. When you're working for a business, it's important to gain a reputation as an honest and trustworthy member of staff. The moment that you start white-lying your way through the day, you lose any credibility you had. And, if you're unhappy with the restraints of your current role, that may be a sign that you need to look for a new position that offers more flexibility.
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