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Why You Need To Take PTO When Working Remotely

“What’s the point of using my Paid Time Off if I have nowhere to go? It’s not like I have unlimited days, and I’m already home, why would I waste them?”

If you have been working from home, you have likely had this thought, haven’t you? I know that I did. I was big on traveling, saving my PTO days to use them to travel, to get out of my house, to see the world. But unfortunately that has not been possible lately due to travel restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What does this mean? Taking PTO still needs to happen, even if you cannot use the way you usually do or the way you want to. Why should you still take PTO even if you are already working in your pajamas from home? There are so many reasons! And here’s some of them.

Why You Need To Take PTO When Working Remotely

Mental Health Days Are Important

It is okay to use your paid time off as mental health days! We have stressed this on GenTwenty already, but it chimes even louder now during this global crisis. Many of us are working from our small apartments where we live alone and don’t see anybody all day minus on video calls.

Some are trying to juggle working and home schooling children.  Or are trying to handle conference calls while our roommates/significant others are also on conference calls. It’s exhausting!

And worse than that, it’s stressful. The burnout can come without even realizing that it’s on the rise. This is why taking a mental health day is important.

You need time away from the screen to relax and do something for yourself. You need a day (or two or three) where you do not worry about work. It will help keep you from burning out, ease your stress, and help you feel rejuvenated.

Paid Time Off Days Tend To Expire 

For most companies, PTO days tend to expire — only a certain number of days each year are allowed to roll over. This means that if you do not take the days before year’s end (or whenever the cutoff may be), you just lose them. You wasted free days where you will still get paid!

Plus, a lot of companies do not let you cash out these days at the end of the year, so you are actually wasting your own money because of it. That’s right — it’s not financially savvy to let your PTO days expire; you are losing out on your own money that is owed to you!

Remember, paid time off are days that your company gives you to take off from work and still get paid for that full day. These are things you do not want to waste and instead utilize to help your financial health, your emotional health, and your mental health. Now if you are one of the lucky ones that has unlimited PTO days, that’s amazing, just don’t take advantage of it (but still remember to take days as needed!).

There’s No More Buffer Between Work and Home 

Many of us who used to commute into the office each day had a clear distinction (or more of a clear distinction) as to when their work life ends and their home life begins. Now that we are working from our homes, that is not the case anymore. There is no buffer, no decompression, no line drawn between.

I know I have found myself cooking dinner while still fielding emails or washing dishes while on mute on a call. That would never have happened in the office!

Taking PTO days will help you reestablish that buffer and help draw that line before work and personal. I know a lot of people who realized they had many PTO days leftover and opted to take every Friday or every other Friday off to help them find a better work life/personal life balance, and according to them it has worked!

The Pandemic is Exhausting 

I alluded to this above many times but it’s important for me to stress it again — working remotely, while juggling everything else going on in the world and in our own homes, is exhausting. It has become so much easier to burn out, become stressed, and not even realize it.

Staring at screens all day, or being on back to back calls all day, is draining (especially on the eyes!). It takes a different toll on our bodies than sitting in a conference room surrounded by other people did.

The most important reason as to why you should utilize your paid time off days while working remotely is for you to take time for yourself to do something you like, whether that be a day of relaxation, shopping, reading, working out, cooking, etc. Whatever you want to do, do it, and don’t think about work while you do.

About the Author

Michelle Ioannou

Michelle graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelors of Arts '13 and a Master of Arts '14. She's currently working in corporate America with a side of freelance writing. She wants you to learn from her experiences and mistakes so your 20s can be your best decade. When she's not working, she's likely planning her escape to a tropical island.