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Working from Home for the Holidays

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - 10:15
Work from Home on the Holidays

Most of us are already aware how communication & collaboration technology is changing the regular routine of going into an office. And in fact, more 90 percent of employees are already taking advantage of these tools to work remotely according to a recent West UC study on remote workers.

Who works from home on the holidays

The advantages of being able to work out of the office are obvious, but what about when that work-from-anywhere mentality creeps into non-work hours, our personal time, and even our family & friends time? Are we always working now instead of taking our designated time away from work?

With the holiday season just around the corner, employees will no doubt be taking advantage of remote work policies. But we wanted to find out if the ability to work remotely has cut into our traditional time-off. Are people now more likely to work remotely than take their PTO? Why? And does our need to remain connected to work while out of the office creep into our holidays as well?

We surveyed over 600 full-time U.S. employees to find out more about their holiday work plans. Our findings show that more and more Americans will be keeping an eye on work this holiday season, even during the days almost all businesses are closed.

WFH Replacing PTO

Working from home can be a great advantage for employees, especially ones balancing office time with a family at home. Parents can get work done while staying at home with sick children, and homeowners can wait for the repairman to fix an appliance without losing a whole day’s tasks. We can get our work done without wasting our paid time off.

That mindset appears to be carrying over to the holiday season. In fact, 70 percent of employees that have the ability to work remotely plan to do so at least one day during the holidays. Half of employees (50%) say they will use a combination of remote work and paid time off, while only 16 percent said they would only use paid time off.

And that appears to be indicative of today’s culture. Twenty years ago, that 16 percent taking only paid time off would be nearly 100 percent, whereas today’s workers want to save those days. Seventy-six percent of employees working remotely or from home this holiday season said they are doing it specifically so they don’t have to take time off.  

That makes even more sense when you consider that 28 percent of people working remotely said they plan to do it for 5 days or more, while another 42 percent expected to “WFH” at least 3 or 4 days. That’s obviously a significant chunk of time that people don’t want to take out of their regular paid time off that could be used for vacations, trips, family visits, etc.

Holiday work connection

In fact, when asked why they plan to work remotely instead of take time off, the top employee response (38%) was, “I don’t want to use my paid time off.” Only 13 percent said they don’t have any time off left, meaning people are avoiding using the time or hoping to roll it over to next year rather than use it during the holidays. Another 23 percent said they don’t want to be swamped with work or emails while they are out, and 20 percent said their boss always expects them to be connected if it’s possible.

I’m Dreaming of a Work-Free Christmas

Of course, staying connected to the office has it’s benefits, and checking your work email is hardly considered a huge task for most employees. It’s likely part of the regular Instagram, Facebook, and texting habits we go through on our phone every day anyways. That doesn’t stop during the holiday season.

Forty-two percent of employees said they check emails at least 1-2 times daily when they are off the clock for public holidays. Another 36 percent admitted to checking emails every few hours, and a dedicated 11 percent of workers will check email every hour during a holiday!

Checking work emails on Christmas

Even on Christmas Day, when most non-retail businesses are closed and there are typically a ton of other activities happening in one’s personal life, a whopping 66 percent of employees said they will check their work email at least once. Taking that a step further, 38 percent of respondents said they have taken a  work call or meeting on Christmas Day.

The trend is clear; we’re switching out a traditional 9-5 workday for a more flexible, although sometimes longer lasting, work schedule.

All I Want for Christmas is a Better Equipped Workforce

While some might perceive checking your email so often or on during non-work hours as an intrusion on personal time, others enjoy the ability to stay connected while getting more time out of the office. The key for today’s innovative companies is being able to provide the collaboration tools for both preferences.

Conferencing solutions, instant messaging chat tools and other collaboration platforms allow workers to feel connected without the need to be online 24/7. Especially during the holidays, companies should allow remote or out-of-office employees to check in with work, collaborate to solve any issues quickly and then get back to their day. Even as more people choose to do work out of the office during holidays, the perfect work-life balance is achievable with flexible tools.

What about you? Are you planning to work from home during this holiday season instead of taking time off? What are your thoughts on checking work email during holidays and time off? Tell us your story and how you think your company can better provide the tools for you to achieve a successful work-life balance this holiday season.

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