If you’re like me or many of the people I know, working from home has provided a lot of benefits: no commute, working from the comfort of your own couch, snacks are more easily accessible, and the list goes on. With every list of benefits comes a list of challenges and hurdles, and working from home isn’t the exception. One of the major (and unexpected) challenges that has come from the remote work revolution has been the trouble with taking days off.
This isn’t to say that people aren’t being granted days off; it’s far from it. This is to say that employers are having trouble getting employees to take days off. Kind of crazy at first glance, right? Some companies have allowed their employees PTO days to accumulate, while others have been facing difficulties with that same thing. There are some solutions to this PTO problem, but it depends on a lot of factors within each organization.
But what about the perspective of the employees? With COVID-19, there’s no big vacation or anything of the sort, so if there’s no reason to leave your house there’s no reason to keep saving your vacation days. While there has been a break from office life, most people haven’t had a break from their work from home life.
When you’ve been in the office, it’s easy to take a couple of days off and get some healthy space from the office. It mixes up your routine and gives you the time to take a vacation or a staycation. But now that the office is on the same foundation as your living space, there isn’t as much of an incentive to use your PTO.
I’ve thought about times where I wanted to take a random day off, but anytime that thought crossed my mind I decided against it. Why? Because it isn’t like I’d be staying home to enjoy an extra day of comfort away from the office. My home is my office, so even on days where it would have been nice to give myself that time, I haven’t really felt the need.
Whether it’s a day off or not, the only difference will be that my computer is in front of me. I’ll still have that piping hot cup of coffee in the early morning, thinking about what I need to accomplish to call the day a successful one. What’s the point of using my PTO if I’m going to just be at home anyways? Well, as I and others have come to learn, there is a point.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, days and weeks have blurred together to the point where it’s still hard to believe it’s close to the one-year anniversary of the pandemic starting here in the United States. Since then, it’s taken a toll on the mental health for everybody. One way many people get out of a work funk and relax is by taking a vacation. The problem, as many of you know, is that most vacation plans have been a non-starter since the beginning of March 2020. Until vaccinations become widely available it looks like that will continue to be the case.
It’s easy to get burnt out while working from home, and even though your day off might not be a physical escape from your office space, taking the mental escape from the office for a day or two to reset and relax is great. Even if you take a day off here or there, until life is back to normal, you’ll probably be acquiring a lot of PTO hours in your free time.
Taking a day off here or there, even if you’d still be home doing nothing, is good because it gives you an extra pause. Consider taking a Monday and/or Friday off to have yourself an extended weekend. That way you can get all your productive weekend things done with one or two more days to just enjoy doing nothing. The research is clear: taking time off from work is important.
So, while we all find ourselves stuck in our homes, taking a vacation isn’t the same as it once was. But just because we can’t leave the house doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take time off. So, find a week to just have time to yourself or with your family and make the best of this situation during these strange days.