The Sneaky Trick To A 'Quiet Vacation' Without Getting Caught

Quiet vacation. Hush trip. Workcation. These are all terms for the latest travel trend sweeping remote workers. These are sometimes used to refer to a few different things, including everything taking an unauthorized long weekend, but in general, it means continuing to work your scheduled hours from someplace that isn't your home office. Some employers encourage their employees to work from wherever they want (assuming they stay productive while they're there, of course). However, others are not so accepting of workers logging in and doing a full day's work from an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean. This has led many employees to embrace a simple tactic for keeping their location private: changing their Zoom background.


Proponents of quiet vacations strive to be able to work from anywhere, turning in the same quantity and quality of work that they would have done in a home or office setting, without missing out on travel opportunities. However, if their bosses aren't as confident in their skills as they are, those hoping to take a workcation might have to make it a hush trip and blur or change their background. Unless you happen to live in the tropical paradise of Panglao Island (Sana ol!), seeing a white sand beach in the background of a video conference call is a dead giveaway you aren't at home.

How to use a virtual background for a quiet vacation

If you work from home, you may work in your living room, your home office, or even your bed sometimes (no judgment). Some people like to use a virtual background to keep their coworkers from seeing inside their house, for privacy reasons or because they haven't had a chance to do the dishes (again, no judgment). This virtual background can also hide the fact that you're working out of a hotel room or dipping your toes in the water at a restaurant in the Caribbean during your client meeting. Hilariously, according to a survey from Resume Builder, not only did 65% of the remote workers who had taken hush trips say that they had used virtual backgrounds to disguise where they really were, but more than 80% of them used a photo of their own home office to make it look like they were still at home.


Virtual backgrounds are a feature already built into Zoom. All you need to do to use one yourself is to download a photograph or video that you would like to show up behind you, make sure it's big enough and in the right file format (GIF, JPG, PNG, MP4, or MOV), and update Zoom preferences to include a virtual background. To make sure it looks right, it can help to set up with a solid color wall behind you, or even use a collapsible green screen, which you can usually pick up for around $10.

Other ways people hide their workcations

The best way for employees to make sure their secret work trips go unnoticed is simply to ensure that all their work gets turned in on time and that they attend all the meetings they would have gone to if they were at home. Even if you're not staying at a resort that caters to travelers on a workcation, you should always make sure that you'll have strong enough WiFi and cell service during your shifts. While at many remote workplaces, that's all that's required to prevent raising any red flags, some remote workers go beyond that to hide the fact that they're on vacation.


In addition to changing their virtual backgrounds, workers may use VPNs to make their location match their home office's and make the laptop's time match the time zone at home in case it shows up while screen sharing. Aside from using technology, some workers have some little tricks that they use to avoid anything that might flag to their coworkers that they were anywhere out of the ordinary. Some bring their usual coffee mug from home or close the curtains and turn on low lighting to make it seem like they're in the right time zone.