U.S. employees are scouring the internet for excuses to miss work — just as bosses call them back to their desks.

The total number of Google searches for plausible reasons to play hooky shot up over the last two years, topping 2 million in 2022, according to an analysis by Frank Recruitment Group, a global employment firm. In 2018, that figure was a little over 300,000. The firm analyzed traffic across 10 of the most popular search terms, including multiple variations of “realistic excuses for missing work.”

Some of the top results? Illness, family or home emergencies, doctor’s appointment and car trouble.

This surge comes as executives express concern about quiet quitting and faltering productivity, and as return-to-office demands ramp up. Workers across industries have pushed back against RTO mandates, especially in large cities with onerous commutes. A recent analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that Americans collectively save 60 million hours of commuting time every day by working from home. Resuming a regular trek back into the office means, for many, less sleep and less bandwidth to balance the rest of life’s demands. 

“Seeing search volumes jump so drastically across the board in 2021 is definitely interesting,” Rowan O’Grady, Frank Recruitment Group’s president of Americas, said in the report. “It seems to coincide with the beginning of the return to office, which tells us that this hasn’t been the easiest transition for everybody.”

Employees are managing stressors that come with the return to the office in part by taking more time off, said Shané Teran, organizational development strategist and president of SP Consulting, in the report. The data also indicate that making the request carries a stigma in many workplaces, with many workers feeling uncomfortable asking for downtime outright.

As companies brace for an economic downturn, many have slowed or frozen hiring, leaving staff to do more with less. But Teran said in order to curb absenteeism, it’s critical for employers to find a balance between pushing for productivity and supporting employee well-being. Last week, the US Surgeon General issued a report calling on employers to foster the health and well-being of their employees.

Companies around the world are experimenting with four-day workweeks in order to address these concerns. Productivity remained stable or improved at nearly all organizations in a UK trial, while another study found employees gain about an hour of sleep every night with a condensed schedule, likely because their time is less constrained overall.