What is a duvet day for employees?

A quick summary:

  • What is a duvet day?
  • How to ask for this initiative
  • Is it ok to have a duvet day?
  • What to do on a duvet day at work
  • The benefits of a duvet day for employees
  • Our conclusion on duvet days at work
  • Advice for managers
  • Advice for employees

In a world fighting for better work-life balance, duvet days are the latest trend to hit the workplace. But what are they and should your company really offer employees a duvet day now and again?

Rewind to pre-pandemic times and duvet days were few and far between. It’s only in recent years have we been blessed (arguably) with this new workplace craze. Despite its skyrocketing popularity, you may still be wondering the following things:

  1. What on earth is a duvet day?
  2. Are there any benefits to having a duvet day?
  3. How do I sign up?

Now, as we said the new ‘duvet day’ trend has divided HR departments. We’re here to give you a complete rundown of its meaning, the benefits and more. In this ultimate guide to duvet days, you’ll be left with all the answers you need.

You might be a decision-making HR expert revamping current incentives. You may be a normal employee finding out how you can ask for a duvet day. Regardless, let’s jump right in and find out more!

A woman enjoying breakfast on her bed
What is a duvet day?

Duvet Days meaning

A duvet day is a day of leave provided by an employer to an employee. It’s often granted without formal time-off requests or employee illnesses; typically at the discretion of a manager.

Duvet days give employees the chance to step back from work and breathe. They’re often woven into a company’s annual leave policy and are praised for their flexibility and support of better workplace wellbeing.

They allow employees to break free of their regular routines and responsibilities. Life comes at us fast, and the burden of our to-do lists and other tasks can get on top of us — and that’s before including our careers!

Despite its title, the term doesn’t require employees to spend the day in bed, of course. That would be bizarre. Instead, employees may want to spend a duvet day in numerous ways; cooking, walking, exercising or spending more time with family.

It’s worth noting that the concept of duvet days changes depending on the company and its policy. Some organisations provide a duvet day as a chance to work from home. Others allow employees to simply step away from work for the day.

Google trends data for duvet days
Popularity for 'duvet days' has skyrocketed on Google

How to ask for a duvet day

To ask for a duvet day, arrange a quick conversation with your line manager. Think about your reasons for wanting a duvet day and the best way to articulate this. A duvet day benefits both employee and employer, so ensure you highlight this.

At the end of the day, this is a form of negotiation, so sell the idea of a duvet day to your manager! Think about how you can bounce back and tackle projects and problems much more efficiently after a duvet day — explain this to your manager.

You may want to tweak your approach depending on the environment and style of leadership. It’s also worth remembering that your employer doesn’t have to give you a duvet day, so be prepared for a straight no.

Now let’s discuss whether it’s right or wrong. You see, there are a lot of curious employers and employees asking “is it ok to have a duvet day?” Here’s what we think…

Is it ok to have a duvet day?

Yes. It is more than OK to request a duvet day. This depends on deadlines and other projects, but at the discretion of a line manager, we believe employees should feel comfortable asking for duvet days.

As much as some employees would love, an employer has no legal obligation to grant duvet days. And so the outcome of these requests will be determined by a number of factors.

Whilst some companies will give a straight ‘no’ to duvet days, others will be more accepting of the idea. We personally believe it reinforces the idea of workplace wellbeing and should — at the very least — be considered by leaders.

Although we won’t go into enormous detail right now, it’s worth acknowledging the benefits of duvet days, as a leader. Firstly, employees are able to revitalise energy levels, increase their wellbeing and thus improve workplace engagement and output.  

These qualities undoubtedly have a positive impact on the business, and this is one of the few considerations to think about as a manager. Below, we’ve listed some more for you — ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are we minimising burnout and work-related stress?
  2. Do these requests reflect our wellbeing efforts?
  3. Is there anything else I can do in addition to duvet days to help employees?
  4. Have I fully understood the benefits of duvet days on our business?
  5. Should I include duvet days at work in our staff wellbeing policy?

The questions above should prompt you to actively think about the various reasons and benefits of introducing this initiative. For employees reading this guide, there are a few things to bear in mind when requesting these days:

  1. Trust and honesty between you and your manager is vital
  2. Responsibility, i.e you want duvet days for the right reasons
  3. A consistently positive and hard-working attitude

Ultimately, however, it’s more than okay to have a duvet day. We are constantly thrown into challenges and obstacles in life. Having the opportunity to step back from time to time — no questions asked — is great.

What to do on a duvet day at work

On a duvet day, you should take a moment to reflect, breathe and relax. After all, that is the basis of duvet days. They aren’t supposed to be super-productive, busy and progressive. It’s a chance to break free from routine and responsibilities.

In this section, we’re going to explore a number of ways to spend a duvet day. Remember, what works for you may not work for someone else. If you’re a manager, suggest ideas to your team — what makes them happy?

Catch up on much-needed rest

Started with quite possibly the most obvious way to spend duvet days, catching up on some needed rest. Our lives are busy, there’s no ignoring that. That’s why having that extra 30 minutes to an hour in bed may be the solution to recharging.

You won’t be surprised to hear that sleep is good for you. Unfortunately, the NHS reported that in 2022, 64% of people between the ages of 17 and 23 had problems sleeping.

Sleep deprivation and poor sleep hygiene are real issues that need to be addressed. And in an “always-on” society, getting that healthy dose of shuteye is becoming increasingly difficult.

It’s always one more TikTok, one more email, one more episode or another form of distraction. Instead, leverage your duvet day with some extra sleep — here are the benefits of more sleep:

  • Better weight management
  • Fewer illnesses
  • Higher concentration levels
  • Improved performance

The list really does go on, and there are many reasons to improve your sleeping pattern. For more information on circadian rhythms, check out our latest Wellness Trends Report 2023.

A woman doing her self-care routine on duvet day
Practice self-care on a duvet day

Practice some self-care

Now let’s turn our attention to self-care. As a wellbeing platform, we’re big on practising self-care. It’s why our users can access hundreds of self-care products. From sleep aid to multivitamins.

If you’re looking to really maximise duvet days with wellbeing, self-care routines are the one. From skincare to bubble baths, sit back and relax.

We rarely get a chance to think about ourselves during work. Our minds are full of deadlines and project details. Then, outside of work, we have other responsibilities. This means our self-care routine sometimes goes neglected.

All in all, it’s a no-brainer to use your duvet day to take a break from a hectic routine for a self-care routine. Below, we’ve listed some of the ways you can mix self-care with your duvet days.

  • Enjoy a meditation session
  • Burn scented candles or diffuse essential oils
  • Create a homemade face mask
  • Try breathing exercises
  • Listen to relaxing music
  • Complete a digital detox

As you can see, all of these ideas require you to slow down and focus on yourself. It’s duvet days like this that can really transform your energy levels and prepare you for your best output when you return to work.

A man cooking his favourite recipe
Cook your favourite comfort food

Cook a comforting meal

Next up, comfort food! Now, don’t get us wrong, eating healthy and nutritious foods is incredibly vital. But now and again, we need to enjoy the foods that make us happy. Whether that’s mac n’ cheese or a vegetable curry, the options are endless.

Here’s how to maximise cooking a comfort meal for your duvet day; start by writing a list of your top favour meals. But not just any meals. Meals that always put a smile on your face.

Next, sift through your cupboards and decide which recipe you have most ingredients for. It’s important that you’re not causing a kitchen nightmare. You want to keep things simple, enjoyable and tasty.

As you’re preparing your amazing meal, take a moment to reflect on the sense; sight, sound, smell and taste. Unlike other times cooking, this should be enjoyable, and all about you.

By the end, you’ll have a delicious meal to eat. Hopefully, that will convince you to use a duvet day for cooking a comforting meal.

An employee taking time away from work to see family
Enjoy family time during a duvet day

Spend time with family

Finally, why not spend more time with family? Work commitments can get in the way, making it difficult to spend quality time with loved ones. By taking a duvet day, employees can take their children on a day out or see their own parents more.

It’s important to maintain healthy relationships outside of the workplace, i.e friends and family. Without these, our performance can suffer. But that’s not all, there are far worse consequences to loneliness and social isolation.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), social isolation has been associated with a 50% increased risk of dementia. What’s more, poor social relationships have been linked to a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.

This should be a wake-up call for both individuals and employers. Not only to make a case for duvet days but to encourage companies to improve the social wellbeing of their workforce.

On an individual level, using a duvet day to improve relationships in our everyday lives is a great idea. Our top tip is to find out if family members are free of their own commitments and plan a relaxed day of family-filled activities.

Other duvet day ideas to consider

Now that we’ve covered some of the best ways to spend a duvet day, what didn’t make the list? Well, we couldn’t everything, so here are some other ideas:

  • Visit your gym and get the blood pumping
  • Binge-watch your favourite series
  • Get on top of life-admin
  • Enjoy hobbies like golf
  • Go on a hike around nature
  • Read a book in bed

This list is by no means exhaustive — take from it what you will. Think outside the box when it comes to spending duvet days. Just remember the criteria; it has to put a smile on your face!

In our own survey of HR professionals, we asked how people would spend a duvet day. Respondents were given four options: life-admin, gym sessions, Netflix or self-care routines.

With more than 600 respondents, we found 34% of employees would spend a duvet day carrying out their self-care routine. This demonstrates the power and importance of health and wellbeing.

However, closely followed by the winning spot was ‘binge-watching Netflix’ chosen by 32% of employees. And although this may not nourish our wellbeing, it’s a great activity to slow down and relax.

Take a look at the results of our duvet day poll on LinkedIn below! Or check out the original post on LinkedIn.

The benefits of a duvet day for employees

Now let’s look at the various benefits, as a business, for investing in duvet days at work. Just as we have done above, we’re exploring the most common reasons why you might want to incorporate this initiative.

Because although it may seem like a one-way advantage, both employers and employees can reap the rewards of duvet days.

Duvet days reduce work-related stress

Stress, burnout and anxiety are all real workplace epidemics. Whether it’s pre-meeting anxiety of projects piling up and burning us out.

According to Statista.com, work-related stress was reported by around 914,00 employees in 2021/22 — up from 823,000 in the previous year.

As an employer, there can be severe damage to your business with a workforce plagued by work-related stress. It should be in the best interest to reduce this issue and improve employee happiness.

Duvet days allow employees to drop everything that’s causing stress and breathe. Sometimes problem-solving and overcoming obstacles can seem impossible. It’s only when we step back and return to a challenge that we can succeed.

For this reason alone, we strongly recommend duvet days as part of your benefits package. Encourage employees not to think about work commitments and projects whilst on a duvet day.

Let them know that hurdles are natural, and we all sometimes come across bridges that seem impossible to cross. If they spend a duvet day worrying about how they’re going to tackle issues, deadlines or problems, then they have been ineffective.

A manager in a meeting with an employee
Understanding the benefits of duvet days as a manager

Taking a duvet day can improve work-life balance

It’s not just the stressors of work that duvet days can cure, it’s improving work-life balance too. Until the global pandemic, hybrid, remote and flexible working weren’t as available as today.

However, times have changed. For employees who work within an office environment, a duvet day offers a better work-life balance. Giving them the chance to avoid commutes, meetings and other tasks for a day.

Gaining several hours back, they can take on some of the ideas mentioned earlier. But it’s not just on-site workers that reap the benefits of a duvet day.

When working remotely, some employees simply don’t leave a certain room or space all day. So, although remote work is an attractive option for employees, it doesn’t completely cure work-life balance.

In fact, in our study of more than 8,000 employees, it was found that 52% of respondents were working longer hours from home than before COVID-19.  The reality is that duvet days can help fix issues for both onsite and remote workers.

It’s worth conducting some sort of employee wellbeing survey after implementing duvet days. For this particular point, you should measure the work-life balance of employees after leveraging duvet days.

Establishes better workplace wellbeing

Last but certainly not least, duvet days give off a message — a message to existing employees, new hires, candidates, customers and investors. It demonstrates a genuine concern for employee wellbeing.

Employees need to feel valued to feel their best. They must believe their concerns are heard and that managers want to support them. By implementing a duvet day for employees, you are developing a culture of wellbeing.

And in recent years, workplace wellbeing has become a driving force for successful businesses. Of course, duvet days alone aren’t enough to improve employee health and wellbeing.

Consider reading our ultimate guide to wellbeing. Here we look at everything it takes to create healthier, happier employees.

But it isn’t just employees who should convince you to invest in offering a duvet day. When it comes to hiring talent, this initiative can attract candidates too. You see, it gives off a message that you don’t just care about creating a successful business, but a happy workforce too.

Richard Branson once said the following…

​​"Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients."

Our conclusion on duvet days at work

Congratulations, you made it this far through our guide to duvet day. As you can probably tell we’re all for this initiative. We think it provides employees with the tools to take control of their wellbeing — to a degree.

Of course, there’s much more employers can do, but it’s definitely a starting point. We’ve condensed our advice for both employers and employees when it comes to the duvet day idea. Read on to find the one that matches your circumstance…

A team of six employees smiling around a desk
Our final thoughts on duvet days for employers and employees

Our thoughts for managers

As a manager, you have a duty of care for employees. You should always look for new ways to create healthier, happier teams. The great thing about a duvet day is it allows you, as a manager to explore new initiatives without breaking the bank.

You can now support better work-life balance, higher productivity, and less workplace stress, and that just scratches the surface of possibilities.

We recommend managers adopt the conscious leadership approach and really listen to the needs of their employees.

If an employee is struggling with their sleep pattern, consider a duvet day. If employees feel burnout, stressed or as though they aren’t seeing family enough, consider a duvet day.

Granted, this initiative cannot cure every hurdle employees face, but it could make work and life just that bit easier.

Our thoughts for employees

As an employee, you’ve likely read through our guide and found the most value in how best to spend a duvet day, along with how to ask your employer for one.

Our best advice is to take this initiative seriously. As we’ve said time and time again, this initiative can help boost mental and emotional health, social wellbeing and more. It essentially hands back your time and freedom — spend it wisely.

Remember to only take a duvet day if you genuinely need it. It shouldn’t be used misused. It’s especially important to not overuse this initiative, or you may draw attention from managers who are weary of your output and general wellbeing.

All in all, a duvet day is a great way to support your health and wellbeing. And that’s all it should be leveraged for.

It’s only in recent years that this new trend has hit the workplace. But by using duvet days professionally, there’s a higher chance employers will continue offering it to their team members.

More articles just for you

Get free wellbeing updates from Heka 🙌

Enjoy exclusive invites & useful resources, for free!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.