The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the world’s acceptance of remote work as a default work model. Now that many people can now work from anywhere, how does it change how people work and take vacations?
Workation has emerged as a new trend in the world of remote work.
According to a Booking.com survey of 20,000 travellers from 28 different countries, 37% of global travellers have considered booking a destination trip for work. In addition, in the US particularly, this figure is even higher, at 42%.
As the workation trend continues its surge despite the pandemic, hotel destinations, organizations, and entrepreneurs around the world are hoping to cash in on the movement.
For instance, Dubai recently introduced a remote visa program that allows visitors to stay for up to 12 months. More so, visitors can access co-working spaces and support services during their stay. Hotels in the city are revamping their co-working spaces to attract more workationers.
Likewise in India, certain organizations such as Homestays of India have been promoting the working vacation idea.
As long as the work-from-anywhere trend continues to grow, you can continue to expect more people to take workations.
What does workation exactly mean?
A workation is a working vacation. It is the fusion of the words ‘work’ and ‘vacation’.
Taking a workation means you are working remotely. However, the work structure is so informal that it allows you to incorporate elements of leisure. Therefore, when you take a working vacation, you take a break not entirely from work itself, but from your traditional workspace and work structure.
Even then, the essence of workation is not fully captured. Depending on how you look at it, workations can be a challenge or an advantage. In the latter sense, they help employees to improve their work-life balance.
On the other hand, workations may defeat their own purpose by limiting valuable time. These pros and cons are fully explored in the next section.
Pros and cons of workation
Workation enables you to take full advantage of slow business periods
Certain industries have their business swing between work-slow and work-busy periods, particularly when they offer a product or service that is seasonally used or accepted.
In this case, taking a workation can help you to maximize the non-peak periods without dropping company performance.
This keeps you energized such that once work gets busy, you are supercharged for productivity at full momentum.
Workation makes you relaxed and creative
A workation is a temporary arrangement that makes you change your environment to be more relaxing. You get to enjoy beautiful views in a peaceful environment while wearing casual clothes.
More importantly, though, a change of environment can boost your creativity and improve your work-life balance.
When you get used to a world of routine and the same traditional arrangement every day, you have no option but to think in the same way every day.
Creativity is a kind of thinking, a change in thinking.
That said; changing your environment, even if temporarily, can help you to think in a new way, see things from novel perspectives, and generally improve the quality of your output.
By leaving the everyday noise behind you, a working vacation can allow you to work with renewed focus and zeal.
Workation can challenge you to do better at work
When people think of vacation (actual vacation, this time), they think of fun experiences.
However, a vacation can be challenging too, by forcing you out of your comfort zone. The same thing applies to workations.
Not all workations are taken just to visit an amusement park. Sometimes, a person may take a workation in order to partake in challenging activities such as camping, hiking, or generally doing things you would rather not do.
In this way, workations can help you to try new activities that directly improve your work productivity.
For example, taking a workation to a new place and being forced to talk to and relate to strangers can help you to improve your relationship with co-workers and customers/clients.
Workation allows you to extend your vacation periods
This might be important, for instance, for someone in a long-distance relationship who desires to spend more time with their significant other.
It can also apply to anyone, really. There are many reasons that might make you need to extend your vacation time.
In such cases, you can negotiate a more favourable working vacation arrangement with your boss. This ensures that you maintain your productivity at work while retaining the atmosphere of relaxation that you currently enjoy.
Workation could limit the valuable time
The essence of vacations is to be able to take a well-deserved rest from months-loads of work. After all, life should not be just about work alone.
Everyone agrees that there should be time to have fun with your family, get lost in the allure of nature, experience new cultures, etc. without having to worry about deadlines or the next Monday.
However, by mixing work with leisure, workation seems to take the fun out of actual vacations, limiting how much valuable time you are spending all by yourself.
Essentially, it does not do so much to remove the anxiety that comes with meeting up deadlines, attending meetings (even though virtually), and submitting reports, among others.
Workation may defeat its purpose
Workation only blurs the lines between work and rest/leisure, so much that you are neither able to work properly nor rest/have fun properly.
Imagine being on the beach but your phone continues to chime with email and Slack notifications. What about designing a presentation while being on a ship cruise?
These reasons, and more, help critics of the workation idea to make a case for its pointlessness.
At a time when the world of business is trying to ensure better work-life balance by drawing clearer lines between work and leisure, workations seem to drag us steps backwards.
What should you do as an employee?
There is nothing wrong with working in a nicer or even a totally informal environment if you work remotely. However, if the arrangement robs you of both your productivity, your psychological and physical wellbeing, then it’s most probably not the best for you.
Choose a workation-friendly destination
If you have to take a workation, you must understand that it is not a full vacation and so you should plan with that mentality.
That means choosing a destination and leisure activities that actually allows you to be productive.
You would be draining yourself physically if you go on a hike, for instance, while you have to work immediately after.
Also, camping may not necessarily be a good idea if the campsite lacks amenities like a stable internet connection to conduct your business without interaction.
Plan ahead and remain professional
Set the right expectations for yourself.
Taking a workation is not as simple as packing your bags and going to the next resort you find. It requires a detailed plan in which you structure your work times and your leisure activities for a successful experience.
A workation helps you kill two birds with one stone: that is, relaxation and productivity. Make sure that your experience will allow you to enjoy these twin objectives.
In the same vein, always remain professional. Your colleagues may or may not (especially if you work remotely as a norm) know that you are on a workation. Regardless, they want to interact with your ‘work self’ as fellow professionals.
Therefore, attending a video call while eating out, for instance, would be unsuitable.
Have a proper workspace
A workation is not an excuse to work from your bed all day. Besides, that practice can even be harmful to your health.
Therefore, it is important to have a dedicated workspace during your workation.
For one, it helps you to maintain focus while at work. Mentally, sitting at your desk while you set out to work tunes you away from leisurely distractions.
This ensures that you remain productive and fulfilled at work, even in a general atmosphere of relaxation and enjoyment.
What can you do as an employer?
Use workation for team building
Employers can even make workation more enjoyable by having teams go on workation together.
When colleagues work and have fun together, it strengthens their affinity towards each other. With a stronger bond comes a more collaborative, more productive team.
More importantly, having one’s colleagues around ensures that no one gets lost in the leisure activities.
In this way, group workation can be an excellent team-building adventure.
Improve your time off policy
In general, workation or otherwise, employers need to do better in their approach to how employees take time off.
Employers can go the extra mile in ensuring that their employees take well-deserved rest commensurate to the work they put in at the company.
Millennials and Gen Zs, particularly, are more likely to explore options that allow them to travel and see the world while holding a full-time job.
Therefore, offering regular workations might be a great way to appeal to this demography of workers.
All these do not advocate throwing caution to the wind.
Even while employees are on workation, employers should have a system in place to accurately measure performance and productivity. You need to maintain a good measure of operational visibility in order to make business processes run smoothly.
A well-functioning HR software can help you to take effective control of your business operations regardless of the location of your workers.
Rethinking Time Off
It is essential to clarify the difference between intentionally taking a workation and being unable to unplug from work while on a full vacation. The former has you achieving twin objectives of productivity and relaxation.
On the other hand, the latter only has you robbing yourself of deserved time off.
As an individual contractor, employee, or employer, everyone needs to rethink their approach to time off in order to create a business world where everyone is happier, more productive, and more fulfilled.