Remote versus on-site workers: Who's taking less vacation time?

Employers urged to be mindful on why workers don't take much-needed leaves

Remote versus on-site workers: Who's taking less vacation time?

Remote workers are taking 5.5% less vacation time last year than their counterparts on-site, according to a new report, amid fears of presenteeism among remote teams. This is according to an analysis of HR management software provider Gusto on vacation hours reported on employee pay checks among 300,000 businesses.

The report found that remote workers only took an average of 86 hours of vacation time over the last year, compared to 91 hours for non-remote workers.

"Remote workers are more checked into work than non-remote workers," Gusto said in its report. "In fact, remote workers are less likely to take vacation time than non-remote workers. And when they do go on vacation, they tend to take less time overall."

This debunks perceptions that remote workers are likely to take more time off as they feel more disconnected and less engaged that their colleagues on-site.

Why are they taking less time off?

Gusto attributed the situation to remote workers having flexible schedules and being less likely to experience burnout.

They also have the advantage of working at the comfort of their own home and can rest without having to take a vacation.

"Remote workers may be more likely to take a workcation, where they travel for fun while working. So instead of working from their home office or couch, their backdrop it's a beach or the mountains," Gusto said.

But Gusto warned that remote workers may also feel less entitled than their on-site co-workers when taking time off.

"Remote workers may feel less entitled to taking vacation time compared to in-person workers because they don't have to be physically present in an office," the report said.

What can employers do?

The rise of remote work has prompted fears that it could trigger widespread presenteeism among remote teams. In 2020, more than a quarter of HR managers said this may be because of the lack of distinction between work and personal life due to the remote work trend.

There are also fears among remote workers that their current workplace arrangement could potentially hurt their careers.

Gusto said that while remote work could reduce the chances of burnout and increase commitment, employers should be wary of the reasons why remote employees aren't taking as much vacation leave.

"Employers should watch out that their remote employees aren't simply refusing to take vacation because they don't feel entitled to, or they are worried about the perception that they aren't as committed or hard-working," Gusto said.

It then encouraged employers to regularly check in with their staff to ensure that they are empowered to take a break or risk long-term burnout.