How To Manage PTO for Remote Employees

How To Manage PTO for Remote Employees

Remote work has changed people's work, giving them unprecedented flexibility and ownership over their schedules. On top of this, many companies offer PTO –paid time off– for remote employees that allow workers to balance life and work easily. However, finding a way to coordinate all workers taking time off can be a challenge.

The challenge not only comes from streamlining schedules but also from motivating employees to take time off.

Some might think that offering robust paid time off policies will result in employees slacking off, but statistics show that 55% of Americans do not use all their available paid time off. In 2018, workers in the United States did not use 768 million days of PTO.

A clear remote first culture can help outline how employees can take time off, what time off is available, and how to take advantage of it.

To help your employees and managers navigate this process, here are our best practices for managing paid time off for remote workers.

What is PTO and how does it work for remote work?

Paid time off, commonly known as PTO, is a leave policy that allows remote employees to take time off without losing pay. It can be used for vacation, family, travel, illness, and other purposes.

PTO policies can vary significantly depending on the company, with some lumping vacation days and sick days together as a single form of leave while others treat them separately.

There are three main types of PTO policies:

Accrued PTO:

This policy allows employees to earn time off in increments that are tied directly to their years of service and the hours they have worked during a given period.

Bank PTO:

This is the most common system and allows employees a fixed number of days off. These days can reset at the start of the year or the beginning date of employment. In this policy, sick days, vacation days, or personal time off are all considered in the same category.

Unlimited PTO:

An unlimited PTO policy allows employees to take as many days off as they want, under the condition their work is done and the policy isn't abused.

Remote work and PTO policies go hand in hand since they accommodate employees' needs and preferences. When workers can have ownership over the days they can use for vacation or illness and have the option to work remotely, it helps them feel more valued and appreciated by their employers. This can lead to higher engagement rates and increased productivity for the company and its employees.

How traditional PTO is different from unlimited PTO

Traditional PTO plans offer employees a fixed number of leaves that can be taken at any time as long as the employee has been with the company for a certain amount of time or worked enough hours during that calendar year. These policies consider vacation days, sick leave, and personal days as the same; employees have access to whatever days they need based on their circumstances.

With unlimited PTO, employees take time off whenever they need it since there is no maximum number of days they can take. That means that workers have more flexibility to manage their time and stay productive while at work.

Unlimited PTO policies can benefit parents who need more time off to take care of kids, as well as people with chronic illnesses or other medical needs requiring them to take days off for doctor's appointments and treatment.

Step-by-step guide to managing PTO for remote workers

The goal of PTO is to give employees the flexibility to take time off when needed. It allows employers to retain valuable talent while encouraging employees to care for themselves and their families. It also implies that employers trust workers to take advantage of this benefit while meeting deadlines and expected results.

Here are some steps you can take to manage paid time off for remote workers:

  1. Communicate the type of PTO policy and make sure everyone understands it.
  2. Set up a system for tracking and approving time off requests, so you know each employee's availability.
  3. Make it easy for employees to request time off, so they feel encouraged to take time for themselves.
  4. Provide transparent workflows when someone is on leave, so there are no pending tasks when they take time off.
  5. Make sure that people are taking enough time to rest. Motivating employees to pause and relax can improve their wellness, productivity and work satisfaction.
  6. Lead by example. When leadership takes time off, it signals to employees that they should do it too and that it's important to their well-being.

How remote workers can plan for PTO

Managing PTO as remote workers is no different from managing vacation if you are a remote worker. You should plan ahead and communicate with your team when you will be taking time off.

As with vacation planning, there are several ways to make sure you make the most of it:

  • Try to book your PTO on slower periods when your workload is smaller.
  • Ensure all pending tasks are completed before taking a break so that nothing suffers while you're away.
  • Let your coworkers know when you'll be out. The more transparent you can be about your time off, the easier it will be for everyone to plan their days around yours.
  • If you're going on an extended vacation, consider pairing up with a coworker for coverage.

When it comes to managing your PTO, there's no one-size-fits-all solution. Like any other aspect of working remotely, it takes trial and error before you find what works best for your team.

Benefits of offering PTO to remote workers

If you're thinking of adding PTO to your remote employee benefits package, there are plenty of good reasons.

The first and most obvious is that it shows you value your employees' contributions to your company's success.

Not only does this communicate respect for them as people, but it also demonstrates a commitment to their continued well-being.

In turn, employees who feel valued are happier, more productive, and more loyal—all of which help build a great culture for everyone (not just remote workers).

Frequently Asked Questions about PTO

Can I go on vacation while working remotely?

Yes, you can go on vacation while working remotely. Remote-first companies usually have PTO policies to help employees manage their time. Although you can work from anywhere, resting and relaxing are essential. Just make sure to plan and communicate with your team so that they know what is happening.

Is flexible PTO the same as unlimited PTO?

Flexible PTO policies allow employees to take time off as needed. However, there may be limits on the number of days taken during a calendar year. In an unlimited PTO policy, employees have no limits on the number of days they can take off at any point during the year.

Is PTO the same as vacation?

PTO is a specific type of paid leave but can also be used for vacation. PTO entails more categories than just vacation: sick days, personal days, and parental leave.

How to calculate PTO?

If you work under an accrued PTO policy, your employer sets an accrual rate to determine how much PTO employees will earn during the year.

Employers can figure out how much PTO their employees are entitled to by dividing the annual hours of PTO into the number of work hours for a given year.


When managing paid time off for remote workers, you must ensure that your employees know what they're entitled to and when they can use it. It should be easy for them to keep track of their PTO to plan and stay on top of their workload.

Allowing workers to take time off when needed is a sure way to provide flexibility and ensure that top talent stays at your company.

When it comes down to it, offering Paid Time Off is a great way to show employees that they're valued and appreciated by your company.

Providing access to opportunities requires that companies can find, hire, and retain the best talent regardless of location. At GroWrk, we help companies make that happen. With our IT asset management platform, companies can set up devices in more than 150 countries in just a few clicks. Fast-track a demo today and get a headstart on the future of work.

Mara Quintanilla

December 1

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