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What is a Workation & What Are Some of The Best Destinations

Key Takeaways

1. Workations, or working vacations, grew in popularity during the pandemic as increasing numbers of people chose to escape it all with extended working holidays in remote locations in well-equipped accommodation. 

2. It’s time to ask the question, “Is a working vacation an Oxymoron? Can you successfully combine work and play in a beach resort in Costa Rica? Or will you end up with the worst of both worlds?

3. Done well, working vacations can be a win-win, boosting employee motivation and development and even providing an international company with increased international and time zone coverage

4. To ensure success a workcation needs careful planning and execution in relation to location, local internet infrastructure, equipment, and working style.

Working vacations grew in popularity during the pandemic as increasing numbers of people chose to escape it all with extended working holidays, working remotely in locations far away from their homes.

Post-pandemic, this trend shows no sign of abating as many people use workcation as a rehabilitation exercise and a way to rapidly reconnect with the world. Last year 85% of Indian workers took a workation, over 25% of Canadian workers plan to do so this year, and 65% of workers surveyed from 8 countries plan to do so, according to data compiled by the BBC.

One could go so far as to say that the working vacation is being normalized as an everyday business reality. It’s possible that the workcation request may soon become as common as the annual holiday, possibly being combined with annual leave allowances to enable longer-than-usual excursions to holiday destinations. Before you know it, workations may be a core component of every business’s remote working policy.

Despite their surge in popularity, workations remain an experimental benefit warranting closer examination. It’s time to ask the question, “Is a working vacation an Oxymoron? Can you successfully combine work and play in a beach resort in Costa Rica? Or will you end up with the worst of both worlds?

Video: Australia vs. New Zealand for a Workation

Does your employee want to take an extended working vacation? Australia or New Zealand may be the easiest locations for them to get the appropriate visa. Watch the below video in order to advise your employees which is better for their situation. And for legal / compliance, don’t worry– it’s easy to hire and pay your employees in Australia, New Zealand, or 150+ other countries worldwide by using Horizons’ service.

Important considerations for Workation

If done badly, the workcation can be detrimental to work-life balance. Picture the resentful executive being compelled to work on holiday due to work or financial pressures.  Research shows that being on involuntary workcations like this makes work less enjoyable and engaging than it normally would be. While at the same time the executive is unable to fully detach from working life and has a less fulfilling holiday. This kind of involuntary workcation is a poor substitute for a real holiday and is not as productive as a well-thought-out working holiday. It is lose-lose and a true oxymoron

Thankfully, workcations are being redefined by a new generation of digital nomads. They are actively choosing to ‘work from anywhere’, taking advantage of tech solutions to work effectively while using their out-of-work time as a perpetual holiday.

When defined like this, a workcation is not an oxymoron, quite the opposite– it represents a healthy work-life balance.

However, to ensure success, a workcation needs careful planning and execution. Below are some considerations for making a workcation successful.

1. Location [e.g., internet infrastructure]

Trying to work without a reliable internet connection will undermine a workcation, lower productivity, and increase stress. Employees should prioritize locations that have good internet infrastructure. Off-grid locations where employees might be reliant on mobile or even satellite connections may have exotic charm, but may be unsuitable for workations. Workers should check recent TripAdvisor reviews or online forums (particularly related to workations or digital nomad lifestyle) for reliable and relevant insight on the quality of the local internet at their target destinations.

2. Equipment [Employees need appropriate workstations]

The equipment and work environment should be appropriate to the duration of stay and the nature of the work being done. If work is limited to twice-daily email checking, basic tasks, or not a lot of meetings, then a quiet ocean-side spot may be perfect. But if the employee is planning to engage in online meetings or deep-focus work, then a dedicated workstation might be more suitable. In the end, it’s up to the employee to know themselves and plan accordingly in order to produce effective output.

3. Working style [e.g., is async work possible?]

Employees should have as much control over their working time as possible on a workation. This is to prevent situations when employees are forced to work during their off-time or during hours which do not accommodate their holiday schedule. Having to respond to calls, emails, and instant messages and attend online meetings either instantaneously or at rigid times will increase stress and make employees feel restricted during their working holiday. A working style in which workers don’t need to be online simultaneously with other workers to get the job done (aka “asynchronous work”) should be a goal on workcations. This will ensure employees on working holiday have the psychological freedom to enjoy the “holiday” part!

4. A clear separation between work and leisure time

When working with divided attention productivity drops, particularly with tasks requiring deep thought. This is the #1 struggle for employees on a workation. There are several ways to combat this however.

1. Experience.

  • They say practice makes perfect. The same is true for a workation. The first workation you take, employees will need to orient themselves and be careful to remain productive. Employers– you should outline clear and reasonable productivity markers when possible to ensure the same amount of work is being accomplished by your workcationing employee. This can be as simple as confirming with your employees line manager that everything is smooth.

2. Schedule yourself.

  • Employees should schedule vacation ‘work time’ so they can work efficiently and be most mindful and present when in leisure mode. Setting clear time markers for work mode and play mode (in local time) helps make sure maximum benefits can be gained for both their professional and personal lives.

3. Technology is your friend.

Workation - working vacation - infographic

NextVacay's 5 steps to planning a workation

What to Pack for Workation?

This will depend largely on the length of the workcation and the type of work the employees intend to do. Employees should put together a work plan and develop their kit list from there. The top 7 items you expect to see are:

  1. 15-to-17-inch lightweight laptop, with a separate keyboard and mouse if working for more than an hour a day. Back-lit keyboard for extra versatility, allowing you to work effectively on the move in low-light situations.
  2. Headphones and a microphone for flexibility should people need to take a call/conference in a public place.
  3. External hard drive – if storage is going to be an issue
  4. Folding laptop table for versatility
  5. Power bank if for hotdesking and also there may be intermittent power cuts in your location. A power bank will help to provide working continuity.
  6. Wi-Fi dongle for laptop as a backup if there is no local Wi-Fi network
  7. Travel lock to protect your equipment

Conclusion

With the growing trend in workcations, employers may increasingly find themselves receiving requests to support this activity. Done well, it can be a win-win, boosting employee motivation and development and even providing an international company with increased international and time zone coverage. If you do need help developing a workation policy, please get in touch with Horizons who have experience hiring and/or supporting remote workers throughout the world.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Yes, if it is properly planned and resourced, it is a good idea for your employees. A workation can boost motivation, enjoyment, and personal development for your employees without sacrificing productivity.

Workation means working vacation. Generally, a workation describes an extended stay away from home, without leaving a job, while engaging in normal working activities. Examples of workations might be:

  • Working for a large multinational in the United States, but going to Costa Rica for several weeks while maintaining all normal job duties and pay
  • Working as a foreign entrepreneur in Shanghai, but visiting family for several months in Europe while maintaining all normal business with clients in Shanghai
  • Working in Germany at an SME and spending half a year in Spain, without leaving your company or job position

Not every role is suitable for workations. Some roles require employees to be in an office or at a work site. However, where it's possible for an employee to work remotely or take a workation, it is generally a good idea to offer these options if you intend to retain the very best talent.

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