Silicon Valley has devised a new scheme for extracting more work from their employees while disguising it as a benefit: “free vacations.”
Bloomberg reports that several companies have started paying for employees’ vacations — selectively, and with strings attached.
Bloomberg notes that, “Many of these companies require employees to engage. Loafing on a beach isn’t an option.”
Think Parallax, a creative agency in the Bay Area, has turned its $US1,500 travel program into a game. Participants have to pick somewhere new to visit and keep it a secret from their coworkers. The travellers leave a trail of digital clues on Instagram and Facebook for people to guess their whereabouts. Once they return, the destination is described in a presentation.
AFAR, a San Francisco-based travel magazine, offers a yearly $US2,000 stipend for employees to travel to any international destination they haven’t visited before. Participants are expected to post their experiences on AFAR’s website.
At G Adventures, a travel company, employees can go on one of the company’s tours free of charge, giving them a deeper understanding of the product.
Further, there are generally restrictions on when an employee can travel, and, depending on the company, who qualifies for the perk.
The thing about vacation time is that it’s generally considered to be unrestricted leisure time. You unplug. You relax. You get away from the stresses and responsibilities of your regular life. A trip restricted to certain places and activities that requires an employee to report back to her boss is not a vacation.
In these kinds of situations, the itinerary may be more open to interpretation than most employer-mandated travel, but if you are going to a place with the explicit expectation that you later produce something for your employer, that’s called “working.”
It’s not a perk, and you should expect to be paid for it.