Hush trips: New workplace trend where employees work from holidays in secret

In the wake of lockdown, almost every workplace has embraced a more liberal “work from home” policy – but what about hush trips, the new trend for doing your 9-5 from a different country (and not telling your employer?). 

According to Jill Cotton, career trends expert at Glassdoor, a hush trip is defined as “a catch-all term to describe an employee working remotely in a different location than where their employer thinks they are. The company usually allows flexible work, but here, the worker is actively hiding where they are working from and/or pretending to be in a location close to work.”

The temptation speaks for itself. Over the past couple of years, it’s become clear that remote working is a perfectly legitimate way of doing your job – in some cases, providing the added benefits of enhanced focus and quiet, while ridding you of daily commute stress. “”The pandemic proved that employees don’t have to be physically present to be productive and for companies to be successful,” adds Cotton. “The pandemic also sped up technology adoption across many businesses, enabling more roles to work remotely.”

Yet some employers implement policies which forbid, say, working abroad, or necessitate their staff to come in to the office a minimum number of days a week – removing the possibility of working just about anywhere. The hush trip, then, is a means of circumventing this. 

While the more rule-abiding might be wary of attempting this kind of manoeuvre, according to Cotton it’s indicative of a greater “power to the people” mentality in the current employment climate. “With labour shortages impacting nearly every industry, workers have the leverage to demand greater flexibility and autonomy over how and where they work.” It’s just, rather than busting in and attempting that conversation with their line manager, workers are just going ahead and leaving the country.

That’s the case for Melinda*, who considers hush trips “the norm”. She tells me: “ If I’m only working from abroad for 1-2 days (like flying to a destination on Wednesday or Thursday and working there from Thursday to Friday so I can enjoy a long weekend).” Her policy is “ask for forgiveness not permission” – only volunteering the information of her whereabouts when forced to: “I definitely don’t tell my company in advance – I won’t lie about where I am if asked, but I don’t proactively bring it up..Have only done it once for a longer trip of one week), I ended up having to explain because there was a big company offsite scheduled that week and people asked why I wasn’t there. But definitely the ask forgiveness not permission approach.”

Others prefer to lean in to the top-secret approach. “I lived in a different country for three months and took a weekly 6am flight back for the one-day-a-week office day!” says Hannah*, adding: “I’ve also done a number of trips abroad secretly where I had to position myself away from palm-tree backed windows.”

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