This working style is not new, but it definitely received a boost during the pandemic. Workation is a combination of “work” and “vacation”. When you go on a workation (sometimes spelled workcation) you do your normal job, not from the office or your home, but from a holiday destination. The purpose is to use the time when you are not working to feel like you are on a holiday, whatever that means to you: exploring the region, being active, relaxing at the beach. Apart from an extra holiday, a workation has more benefits than you would think.
We tried a workation ourselves and it left us wanting more. Read my personal experience from our first workation.
Getting a taste of digital nomad life
Although your time abroad during a workation could look similar to the life of a digital nomad, it’s not exactly the same. During a workation you get a taste of this digital nomad lifestyle, but it’s temporary. You work from a destination of your choice for 1 or 2 months, or even shorter like 1 or 2 weeks. For digital nomads this is their permanent lifestyle. They often don’t have a home base where they go back to, or an office with colleague’s waiting for their return. Digital nomads work location-independently from their laptop year-round, while workationers typically work remote for a shorter amount of time.
If you are aspiring the digital nomad life, but you are not yet sure if it’s something for you, a workation could be a good start. And in some jobs, it’s just not possible to work remotely full time, a workation could at least make you feel like a digital nomad once or twice a year.
Benefits of a workation
Workations grow in popularity for a reason. Think about these advantages:
- You can escape from routine, while still committing to your work tasks.
- The change of scenery can bring you fresh inspiration and new ideas, which boosts your motivation.
- You discover a new place and get out of your comfort zone.
- If you’re like me the number of paid vacation days will never be enough. There’s so much world to explore! During a workation you work from a holiday destination and taste the holiday feeling without sacrificing precious vacation days.
- Slow travel allows you to make a better connection with a place and its customs, not rushing into a place.
- Increased productivity. Various reasons for this, apart from the mood booster as mentioned earlier. There are not many home commitments: fewer chores waiting to be done and no daily commute. You can get rid of everyday distractions, colleagues stopping at your desk for a chat, overhearing all the calls your colleagues make. Once you’re in the zone, you can easily stay there till you finished your assignment.
- More freedom and flexibility to plan your day. When your employer allows this kind of freedom it builds trust and gives more job satisfaction.
- Being away from home means a limited social agenda, with more time for yourself. Learn a new skill or language, take surf classes, finally read that book, ..
- This one’s for after the pandemic: You could go to a coworking space and get to know new friends or even business contacts. Learn from other remote workers.
- Better health. It’s likely that you will have more time to incorporate physical exercise into your day. Not to mention the mental health, working in this new environment is likely to reduce your stress level.
Be careful for the workation pitfalls
Not everyone nor every place qualifies for a workation. A workation can have disadvantages, but I rather call it challenges. To counter these you will need:
- Self-discipline. Don’t abuse the trust you get from your employer and the team. Get your work done. With good results it is more likely that you will be granted the opportunity to go on the next workation. And after all, it’s in your own interest if you get the job done effectively and not waste time. The mountains are waiting for you (or the beach)!
- Strong & reliable internet connection. Do your research, ask the owner for download/upload speed. Leave at least 1 day before you have to start working or before you have important virtual meetings, so you can look for solutions if something is not working like it should. You could go for a MiFi router with a local sim card as back up.
- Work-friendly accommodation. Know yourself, know your body. Check if the table and chairs look comfortable enough for you. If you can’t work in the same room as your travel companion, you will need to find an accommodation where you can both work undisturbed. If you can’t work with your laptop on your lap in bed, make sure there’s a desk or table.
- Accommodation suitable for long term stays. Most probably your workation will involve a longer stay. Make sure your apartment has a well equipped kitchen and laundry facilities, inhouse or nearby. You will benefit from a convenient location so you can easily stock up on food and supplies.
- Formalities. Be sure to check if you require any special visas or permits. For mid-term workations (a few weeks) you will most probably be on a regular tourist visum. Take into account that many visa have a maximum amount of days that you can stay in the country. For longer workations you can look into countries that offer remote-work visas, the so-called digital nomad visas. Be sure to check the requirements & procedure in depth. A lot of these countries require proof of your (rather high) monthly salary.
- Ways to counteract isolation. Turn on camera when videocalling, plan an informal talk once in a while, go to the office in between your workations, schedule a lunch date with a colleague, …
- Although working remotely allows for a better work-life balance, there’s a blurred line between your work and private life. Be sure to maintain a healthy work-life balance, you are doing this workation-thing for a reason, right? Try to clearly separate your workplace and living space. If not possible, put your laptop and other ‘working tools’ away when you’re taking a break or when finish your working day. Make it a habit so it’s clear when the work day is over.
- Don’t replace a workation for a vacation. Since you will be working most days of the week, your brain won’t be able to get a proper break from work – even if you’re working with your feet dipped in the pool. Make sure you still go on a vacation every once in a while.
Some more tips to make the most out of your workation
Going through the list of workation pitfalls already tackles some aspects you should consider when planning a workation, like making sure your temporary home is work-friendly and taking care of your work-life balance. Here are more suggestions to make your workation a success:
- Plan well ahead. If you’re planning a workation, there might be a lot you need to wrap up on the personal front before you leave home: is someone watering your plants, taking care of your cat, are you subletting your apartment, etc. Don’t forget that you will be working most of your hours, so it also helps when you have already figured out what you want to do outside of your working hours. This allows you to enjoy your off-hours to the fullest.
- Some industries have predictable swings between busy and slow periods. You can plan your workation during those slower times and recharge in anticipation of busy times when leaving the office — and a healthy work-life balance — is a challenge.
- Don’t change locations too often. A workation requires some sort of stability. If you’re traveling someplace new every few days, you won’t have time to settle and work productively, and can’t explore the place you’re staying well enough. I would recommend to stay in a place for 2 weeks at least.
- Don’t blow the budget. Look to spend your workation in a place where the cost of living is lower than at home, or rent out your own house during your workation. You still want money for your real holidays, right!?
Situations in which you can consider a workation
In case I did not yet promote a workation enough with my extensive list of benefits, think about these situations in which it could be a great answer to your needs.
- Solution for staffing issues. You really want to attend your friend’s wedding abroad, but just at that time the team at work is understaffed. A workation is a potential solution that allows your employer to benefit from your work while you get to enjoy traveling.
- Visiting friends & family. If you are living abroad or you have friends or family living abroad, you want to visit them and spend quality time together but you don’t want to sacrifice all your holiday days to this. If your plan is to simply hang out with them while they also have full-time jobs during the day, a workation can make a lot of sense, since they aren’t available to spend time with you during their workdays anyway.
- Vacation extension. If you and your significant other have a different number of paid holidays, adding a workation to your family vacation can help. You don’t to take the extra week away from work, but your partner and family can still enjoy their vacation and you can spend the evenings together
Since the recent Covid-19 pandemic there’s been a rapid increase in working from home and the benefits of remote working have become visible. As long as you have a good internet connection you can work from any location in the world. Many people are more productive in an environment of their choice. We really loved our first workation in Austria and are planning the next one in Croatia.
Are you ready to plan your first workation and become the employee of the future?