Work From home

Employees should not hesitate to ask for a vacation, a workplace expdert advises. "It's yours, you earned it."

More than ever, people could use a vacation in 2020.

Data show most people won’t take the days they have earned and in fact, employees are working more than ever because so many are working from home, extending hours on the job.

Finding a way to manage it all, even changing company policies to permit employees to carry vacation days into 2021, are keyed by constant communication, Gabe Abshire an expert on workplace culture who is the CEO of Utility Concierge in Dallas.

According to a 2019 study by The U.S. Travel Association, Oxford Economics and Ipsos, Americans left a record 768 million vacation days on the table in 2018, a nine percent increase over the year before.

Couple that trend with the fact that many people skipped scheduled days off this year because of COVID-19 and many employers and employees are scrambling over the final seven weeks of the year.

Many companies have a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy with vacation, which can pose a challenge at this time of the year, especially when so many people are out of work because of the pandemic.

“Obviously, it’s an unprecedented time and a lot of things have changed,” Abshire said. “A lot of people are grateful to have a job with so many people laid off. So there is some uncertainty about the reaction. They feel guilty even asking.”

You shouldn’t.

“Employees should not be fearful of asking for vacation,” Abshire said. “It’s yours. You’ve earned it. But communication is important. Make sure you give them plenty of time. Don’t get to Dec. 15 and say, ‘I have 2 weeks left, see you in 2021.”

It is also vital for companies to communicate to make sure employees are aware of how much time they have left to take off, especially if there is no carryover.

“A lot of employers are just as grateful that you are there,” he said. “Whose responsibility is it to track it though? If the employer wants a team to be healthy and sharp, then they want them to take the vacations they are entitled to. There has to be an environment created where employees aren’t fearing taking off.”

That is as important as ever considering studies show that people working from home, while perhaps finding an easier work-life balance, are also putting in more hours.

With access to phones and email, it can be more difficult to disconnect while working at home

Studies show people working at home are spending, on average, 48 minutes more a day working than if they were in an office setting.

“It started out as this novel idea and two months into it, a lot of people were like, ‘this is what work-life balance is supposed to look like?’” Abshire asked.

“Some companies have seen it become a problem, so they cut people off where they can’t log-in to work, or shut the phone log-in off for the day. For our team, it’s made our employees more productive, more accountable and happier.”

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