Another month rolls by in the world of HR, which means another meaningless, derogatory phrase is conjured up to rile the masses into thinking employees aren’t quite working as hard as they used to.
The phrase that has got the UK media all fired up this time is ‘hush holidays’. A term used to describe an employee working remotely from a location that is different to where their employer thinks they are, with an emphasis on the secretive nature of the action by the employee.
But the ugly truth of this new phrase (just like quiet quitting before it) is that many in society are still struggling with the huge changes that have appeared in the workplace over the last five years.
Most notably, the shift of influence from the employer to the employee.
Attacks on remote working need to stop
Using the term ‘hush holidays’ insinuates that employees are being sneaky and should be caught out.
But like similar media reporting on the workplace in recent years, the real reason this phrase has got so much attention is because it is actually just another attack on remote and hybrid working.
These terms make the headlines, in part because the UK Government has been very clear that it does not like remote or hybrid working and claim doing so hampers productivity (this coming from the only OECD country to fail to regain its pre-financial crisis productivity levels – well before mass hybrid and remote working was a thing).
They have taken every opportunity to vilify those who want to work in this way and symbolise a generation of leaders who are struggling to regain control over workers.
These terms make the headlines, in part because the UK Government has been very clear that it does not like remote or hybrid working and claim doing so hampers productivity
Move with the times
Some of our leaders in the UK are witnessing their influence over employees waning and that is making them scared.
Rather than moving with the times and finding ways to work with the changing expectations of employees and wider society, some leaders will continue to push back against change and vilify employees. It is this attitude that ensures column inches when these phrases get invented.
I think there is also another thing at play here too which may explain why these new phrases get so much press attention.
The nefarious role of dwindling newspapers sales
This month there are even reports of a major London newspaper on the brink of collapse as hybrid and remote working has led to a drop in circulation.
Employees working from home buy far less newspapers than employees with commutes.
We should be celebrating those that are finding ways to be happy and well while at the same time working for us. Where or when someone works isn’t half as important as the quality and innovation they produce
What’s the problem?
In one newspaper article I read about ‘hush holidays’ they wrote: “Because they’re still working, most employees don’t see the need to inform their bosses about their trip”. And therein lies the rub – “they’re still working”, so what exactly is wrong with a remote employee, working, err.. remotely?
When I wrote about quiet quitting in HRZone last year I said that workers weren’t quiet quitting, they were just seeking out a better life.
I think that is exactly what is happening here. Employees are finding ways to live the lives they want, while also working.
Quality is what’s important, not location
We should be celebrating those that are finding ways to be happy and well while at the same time working for us. Where or when someone works isn’t half as important as the quality and innovation they produce.
If an employee is still doing what we expect of them to the quality we require, does it really matter if they are working from their house 10 miles away or a holiday villa overseas?
We live in a global economy. More than half a million UK businesses now trade internationally and millions of have colleagues in other locations, outside of the UK.
When an employee puts in the hours or turns up to a specific location just to get through another working day, it leads to low output and mediocre work
As I write this article, one of my Irish team members who usually works in Dublin is working remotely from Spain. They are trusted and empowered to do whatever they need to do to be successful, and I’m confident enough in my measures of success and performance to enable them to do that.
When an employee puts in the hours or turns up to a specific location just to get through another working day, it leads to low output and mediocre work.
Welcome to the 21st Century
When we value task completion over quality, when we don’t focus on the output of the individual, we are applying 20th Century thinking to 21st Century reality.
People are likely the most expensive and arguably greatest resource you have at your disposal. Managing that resource by time and place is an inefficient and costly approach.
We should be empowering our people to work in whatever ways get them the best results and not shaming them for making those choices.
‘Hush holidays’ is already neatly filed away in my bloated desktop folder called ‘passé’.
If you enjoyed this, read: Are workcations the future of remote working?