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Unlimited Vacation vs. Remote Work: Who Wins?

If there's ever been a hype machine that reached peak myth status in the world of HR, it's unlimited vacation, trailed closely by:

--no performance reviews PTO

--dog-friendly company

--peer feedback

--HSA accounts

But I digress. Much has been written about the cool, trusting and performance-first view of any company that would dare to offer unlimited vacation. I have to admit, it's intoxicating, until you figure out that most employees are dramatically underprepared to think about the responsibility and accountability that goes with the perk. I'd argue that there are 3 types of employees related to how their perceive and get their heads around unlimited vacation:

--The clueless. They think they can really take as much vacation as they want and really don't look inward at their performance related to their level of PTO. (10% of your employee population)

--The strong. High performers who operate at a higher level. They already understand that they're generally always on and appreciate unlimited vacation giving them the change to work and play something other than the office. They always answer the phone, so no one really challenges their face time.  They've already proven in. The also understand that their vacation is only vacation until it isn't, at which they hop online or on the horn and knock the required #### out. (10%)

--The huddled masses. Please - these people need rules and routines. They've been around the block enough to know that nothing is free, so they end up taking the same amount of vacation as they had under the old policy and are secretly pissed because they feel like the new rules create just enough gray area where no one really respects the fact that they are "off" when they are "off". (80%)

That scenario begs the following question - would employees rather have unlimited vacation or a healthy remote work schedule?

No question - they want remote work.

If you look at the scenarios above related to how groups react to unlimited vacation, only one group is self actualizing - the strong. But unlimited vacation becomes a form of remote work for them.  The clueless? They think they're living the dream, until you swoop in and deal with the issue by removing them from the company. The huddled masses can't stand your unlimited vacation free-for-all because they're scared to death of the consequences for not being around or having face time.

Remote work wins over unlimited vacation ALL DAY LONG.

Did I mention we might go to a dog-friendly workplace (said in my best carnival barker voice)?  Did I mention we're thinking about replacing the PPO with HSAs, which are cool, progressive and allow to manage the cost of your healthcare?

Unlimited vacation is a dream - it's the opiate of the masses.  Remote work is an OD strategy that actually can improve lives, productivity and retention.

Remote work beats unlimited vacation 10 times out of 10.  It's a four game sweep in a seven game series.

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