As the lines between work and family life become increasingly blurred amid the rise of remote working, employees are finding it hard to take time away from the office and, instead, are “quiet vacationing.”

According to a recent survey by Harris Poll, more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of U.S. workers said they don’t make use of all their paid time off. It found younger workers — particularly those who are millennials or generation Z — were more likely to avoid taking time off because they feel pressure to meet deadlines. These workers also felt as though simply asking for time off will make them look like they don’t take their work seriously.

Read: 63% of U.S. employers with paid-time-off banks say most employees don’t take vacation due to workload: survey

Quiet vacationing is the result of employees feeling the pressure of performing at the office, so rather than take their paid time off when they need it, they blend their downtime into their workday.

A workplace culture that values blending work and home life can create an enhancing effect for the quiet vacationing trend, says Patricia Hewlin, professor of social organizational psychology in the department of organization and leadership at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

“That pressure to be on all of the time is just something that we continue to see in many industries and companies.”

She says in the same way it’s unfair to have an employee have to squeeze in work during their vacation time, employers should consider the degree to which quiet vacationing could be undermining employees’ overall work ethic.

Janine Pajot, vice-president of human resources at Bayer Canada, says the effects of quiet vacationing can signal that an organization’s culture and environment is in need of a change. She says leaders should encouraging people to take their downtime.

Read: Survey finds 50% of employees can’t completely disconnect from work while on vacation

In a statement to Benefits Canada, Alison Simpson, vice-president of HR at AstraZeneca Canada Inc., said she’s concerned with the rise of quiet vacationing, given the efforts by employers to encourage appropriate vacation use. The increasing prevalence in the workplace could stem from employees’ heightened awareness of work-life balance, she added, noting this awareness could be leading them to prioritize personal well-being daily without having to justify taking time off or draw attention to their absence.

Remote work solutions have only further pushed the boundaries between work and personal life for many workers, she pointed out. Simpson’s team sends reminders to employees to reset and recharge from their work and provides self-care resources through a digital wellness hub. “The fear of being perceived as unproductive, dropping the ball or not delivering may lead some to opt for quiet vacationing to avoid potential scrutiny or judgment from their managers.”

Pajot’s team created a denomination for workdays near a personal vacation or a public holiday a few years ago, with the intention to create awareness of expectations around these opportunities to disconnect from work. Her team also tightened their policy to limit carryover of vacation days to nudge employees to take their time off.

“We’re asking people to limit the number of meetings, make them critical only [and] limit the number of emails where you’re asking people to do something on the heels of a long weekend. . . . The intention there is for all employees and leaders just to be mindful about what you’re tossing over the fence.”

Read: 38% of U.S. workers haven’t taken a vacation in 12 months: survey