One of the most beautiful phrases in the American labor lexicon is "paid time off." Or, one would think. But a number of reports are analyzing why Americans are just not leaving the office even when they have the right to. Why? When you can have a handful of days to get a massage in Bali, adventure through Rome, or pet some koalas in Australia, all while letting your bank account fill with your regular salary, why would you not take advantage? Instead, workers are coming in on sick days and leaving their vacation time in the dust. That means, they're basically paying their employers to be at work!

It seems counterintuitive, but our culture is one that fears missing out. American workers, especially those who can work remotely, are working all the time. Taking that time off means missing something, being unable to let go while on vacation, or having a huge workload to deal with before you leave and right when you get back. So many Americans say, "Why bother?"

Other workers have a different philosophy and think that their decision to take a vacation is a sign of laziness or weakness. But while you may think you're being heroic by forgoing your vacation, employers put that policy in place for a reason. It's to provide workers with time to deal with unexpected personal emergencies, sickness, and spending time with their families and friends without incurring debt. Paid time off is designed to give workers a well-deserved break. According to Colleen Kane of Fortune, "people won't take advantage of the policy unless the culture really supports it." Refusing this offer can have a variety of negative effects for both you, your company, and your family.

Burnout

We can only run so long before we need a break, a rest, and some nourishing food. We're human, after all. The same goes with work. We need sleep in order to feel fresh and motivated in the morning. In the same way, a vacation can act as a necessary bookend to a series of productive months. Having something to look forward to can sometimes be a distraction, but it can also be that piece of chocolate cake on the end of the stick, just what we need to make it through. Long bouts of work without a moment to breathe will leave us slow, tired, and more like robots.

Endangering Coworkers

No one should come in sick to work. Even when you have a simple cold, coming into the office could do more damage than good. First of all, you won't feel like yourself, so you won't be able to perform to your best ability. Being sick at work will also slow your recovery time, so instead of one day off and 4 other productive weekdays, you'll have 5 semi-productive weekdays. No one will be mad at you. In fact, they'll be glad that you took the courtesy to get better, and sacrifice yourself for the sake of the team.

The Cost on Businesses

Think you're the only one that isn't benefiting from using your paid time off? Think again. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paid time off funds make up around 7% of total salary in the private industry. And according to The Wall Street Journal's coverage on a U.S. Travel Association study, unused vacation burdens businesses with $224 billion in liabilities. So, not using your vacation isn't just putting you at a disadvantage, but it's bad for the economy.

The Cost on Family

Your family is appreciative for all you do to keep bread and desserts on the table, and especially if you have kids, vacation time is a coveted time. Choosing to stay in the office means missing pivotal moments at home and time to make memories. It's important to be able to disconnect and spend time with those you love, because pretty soon the little ones will be off to college and will want nothing to do with you anymore. So appreciate your family, just like they appreciate you.

We work in an undoubtedly workaholic society, which has its benefits. Increased productivity is one imagined result, but unfortunately, humans are not designed to be working machines. That's why it's wise to take advantage of your paid time off and make the most of it. You deserve it.

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Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.

What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.

The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.

There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!

Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.

Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”

While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.

That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying

the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.

This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.

Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.

That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?

Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”

While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."

In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.

We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.

As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.

What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.

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Did you hear about the Great Resignation? It isn’t over. Just over two years of pandemic living, many offices are finally returning to full-time or hybrid experiences. This is causing employees to totally reconsider their positions.

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