According to a MetLife study, 72% of workers (from a sample of over 2,500) expressed interest in working under an unlimited PTO policy.
While it’s clear that unlimited PTO appeals to many workers, at NoHQ we understand that what you really want to know is whether your remote company will ultimately benefit from offering unlimited PTO. As an educational platform for remote companies, we know a thing or two about this topic.
In this guide, along with discussing the potential benefits of unlimited PTO for your remote company, we’ll explain what you’ll want to consider if managing unlimited PTO. We’ll explore examples of remote companies currently offering this policy. Let’s go!
What is PTO for Remote Workers?
PTO stands for Personal Time Off. Just as in-person workers have PTO entitlements, the same generally applies to those employed remotely. PTO can refer to vacation time, personal days off, and sick days.
Naturally, how much PTO employees receive will depend on the company in question. Factors that influence an employee’s PTO length may include: *
- Company policy
- Specific position
- Employment length
*PTO length can vary for a company’s in-person and remote workers.
How Offering Unlimited PTO Can Benefit a Remote Company
While unlimited PTO is a very appealing policy for potential remote workers, it can also help your business in numerous ways.
Attracting and Retaining Talent Becomes Easy
Between 2015 and 2019, job postings on Indeed that offered unlimited PTO grew by 178% and this offering remains strong in 2023.
Many remote workers want to achieve a greater work-life balance. Therefore, many show a willingness to put employee perks above, for example, potential salary raises. Ultimately, unlimited PTO can attract and retain talent who might otherwise believe the grass is greener elsewhere.
Save Money on Accrued Holiday Pay
Unlimited PTO isn’t based on a set number of days, thus you won’t have to pay employees for accrued holidays. Along with reducing your HR team’s workload, it can help your business save money.
However, designing and implementing this policy effectively is key to making the most of it for your business’s financial objectives and employee well-being alike.
Employees with plenty of time to cut off and rejuvenate can lead to increased productivity. After all, employee burnout can negatively impact employee morale and mental energy. In other words, overworking employees can backfire and lead to lower productivity, whereas unlimited PTO can do the opposite (again, if well-designed and implemented properly).
Along with offering unlimited PTO, utilizing NoHQ’s educational platform for remote companies can help you improve work strategies, policies, and more to further improve your workers’ productivity. Think of our service as the wiki of remote work tools.
Our ever evolving resource can help your company reach the next level with more effective and productive remote working.
Downsides of Unlimited PTO
While unlimited PTO can offer many advantages, it’s only fair to explore the potential downsides too.
One risk of unlimited PTO is that its ambiguous nature may result in some, most, or even all staff overworking. This is primarily down to the possibility that employees won’t use their unlimited PTO properly or at all.
For example, according to Softworks, a survey found that nearly 4 in 10 Americans did not take a vacation in 2022.
According to Bloomberg, some of the reasons why Americans avoid taking vacation time include:
- Concerns about falling behind in their job
- Worried that co-workers may have to carry their load
Ultimately, the reasons why Americans don’t take time off with limited PTO remain largely unresolved.
As CEO of Criminal Defense, Gerrid Smith stated “In such an environment, it’s hardly surprising that some people weren’t paying attention to their vacation time. There’s no visible cue for you to refer to without that numerical allowance, and no number hanging over your head.”
Unlimited PTO Policy Abuse
At the same time, there’s always a risk that a small number of workers will abuse an unlimited PTO policy. Some may take significantly more time off than the average worker, resulting in most employees carrying the burden.
As you can imagine, this can lead to a toxic work environment with resentment and frustration abound. Already, with limited PTO, vacation scheduling conflicts can create various issues at work.
Not Everyone Will Like it
While a 2019 MetLife study found that 72% of Americans take interest in unlimited PTO, that still leaves 28% who are not interested.
Therefore, not only may unlimited PTO risk discouraging certain talent but current employees may feel dissatisfied with the change. As the old axiom goes, you can’t please everyone. Ultimately, this means that unlimited PTO is certainly no silver bullet.
Things to consider When Managing Remote Unlimited PTO
As mentioned, getting a remote unlimited PTO policy right is key to ensuring it works well for your business. So what will you want to consider?
Document and Share Your Unlimited PTO Policy
As you’d imagine, unlimited PTO isn’t exactly what it says on the tin. If it were, workers could choose to never work and receive pay all the same - and obviously, that’s not how unlimited PTO works in practice.
That said, documenting and sharing your unlimited PTO policy is essential to ensure workers know how to use it properly and respect its rules and expectations. For instance, you’ll want a process setup for employees to go through for taking time off. Communicate with your workers as to how they can submit PTO requests via a remote work tool or HR system.
Respect Personal and Cultural Differences
Every employee’s expectations and views on the meaning of unlimited PTO will differ. Therefore, be sure to find the right balance between ensuring your business runs smoothly and respecting the personal/cultural differences of each employee.
How individuals and cultures view vacation time varies across the world, so be conscious of this. For example, different nations/religions have certain holidays that they expect to take time off work during or even view as sacred. For example, their cultural/religious values may espouse that they can’t work on that particular day.
Provide Transparent Workflows
Transparent workflows and good communication can help ensure a worker has no pending tasks when taking time off work.
Remote Companies With Unlimited PTO
Many remote working companies have already implemented unlimited PTO. Let’s take a look at some top examples.
Parabol is a free and agile meeting tool designed for remote teams. Parabol claims to work super hard at creating an employee-centric and people-first culture within their company.
According to Parabol, not only do they offer unlimited PTO to all of their employees but also encourage them to take time off. Aside from that, Parabol respects company-wide and nation-specific holidays. This approach is what they describe as ‘people-first schedules’.
Parabol is a truly global organization with their international team stretching from California, USA to Chengdu, China. Also, Parabol offers US-based salaries no matter the location of their employees. They even provide top-of-the-range healthcare via their local partners.
Other standout perks of working with Parabol include:
- Recurring meetings limited to 1-2 hours a week per team
- Help employees build connections such as through weekly social calls and quarterly retreats
Doppler is a developer-first secrets platform. It helps developers and security teams alike ensure that their secrets and app configuration remain in sync. Doppler is keen to invest in their team to continue scaling successfully such as by prioritizing thoughtful actionable feedback and ensuring good mental health/morale among workers.
Doppler sees their unlimited PTO policy as a way to give employees as much time off as they need while still performing their jobs well. This is pretty much the ideal situation for any remote company offering unlimited PTO; the perfect work-life balance that does not hinder productivity (and, if anything, improves it).
Aside from unlimited PTO, Doppler offers:
- Family planning & family leave
- Financial advisor
- Health plans & benefits (e.g., 401k and dental insurance)
Another remote company that offers unlimited PTO is SwagUp. This service allows users to create bundles of high-quality branded products.
According to SwagUp, they put culture first. Their management starts by empowering leaders to build teams via a combination of honest feedback and transparency.
Further, SwagUp’s management has monthly one-on-one sessions with employees to ensure individual growth. These sessions also give employees the chance to discuss any difficulties they’re facing. Additionally, SwagUp lacks private offices so that everyone is as approachable as possible.
Along with unlimited paid time off, SwagUp offers:
- Parental & bereavement leave
- Health, dental & vision insurance
- Performance rewards
- Pet friendly
- Work from home stipend
PicnicHealth is in the business of advanced, digital medicine. The company can collect, digitize, and encrypt all medical records of its customers before arranging everything into a single, digestible timeline.
The company’s workforce combines doctors, patients, engineers, data nerds, and builders to make medical data meet its full potential and ultimately change the future of healthcare for the better.
PicnicHealth’s perks include:
- Unlimited PTO
- Health, dental, and vision insurance
- Free PicnicHealth account for employees
#5: Iterative Consulting
Iterative Consulting offers a wide range of design and technology services (e.g., data science, UI/UX design, and cloud deployment solutions). Iterative Consulting aims to bring design/technology visions to life by creating high-quality software through a collaborative and effective process.
Iterative Consulting seeks self-starting and passionate professionals traversing the subjects of data science, web application development, and design.And, again, they’re another great example of a remote company offering unlimited PTO.
Additional benefits of working with Iterative Consulting include:
- Health insurance
- Flexible schedules
- Long-term disability insurance
- Company events
This creator-economy-focused business provides a fantastic publishing platform for customers to create their own new media platforms.
Ghost isn’t like most companies. In fact, they’re a non-profit that gives away all intellectual property/software they build, making it free and open source. Ghost is entirely self-funded and lacks any VCs or shareholders. Also, the company is determined to remain a small team, aiming never to surpass 50 people.
Ghost offers unlimited PTO as well as:
- Work hardware paid for (e.g., $500 office workspace setup budget)
- International team retreats
- Meeting-free focus (e.g., usually just 1-2 Zoom calls per week)
Panther is a company dedicated to simplifying global payroll. This international payroll and contract management business helps teams champion talent over location by hiring the best people on Earth and scaling efforts across the continents.
As for career prospects, Panther offers remote-friendly and flexible opportunities with the goal of making work easier and more productive.
Their company benefits include:
- Unlimited PTO
- Private health insurance
- Home office budget
- Co-working space budget
In today’s guide, we’ve discussed the advantages of offering unlimited PTO, what to consider when managing such a policy, and looked at various remote companies offering unlimited PTO and the other perks their employees benefit from.