Another day in the office.
Another Tesco meal deal.
Another Costa latte. You’d rather be on the Costa del Sol, wouldn’t you?
Let's face it, the 9-5 routine can get a bit stale. During the commute, you end up dreaming of sun-drenched beaches, mountain retreats or city breaks.
But your annual leave is already booked. You feel like a 10-day holiday won’t be enough. You want to shake things up a bit.
How can you get away for some refreshment?
The answer is by taking a workation. It’s a new way of balancing work and life that’s become a lot more popular in recent years. By the end of this article, you’ll be booking one for yourself.
What exactly is a workation?
Also called a ‘workoliday’ or ‘woliday’, a workation is just what it sounds like. Working while on vacation (work + vacation = workation).
It’s where you continue to do your work but from a destination you’d normally use for a holiday.
It allows you to work remotely in a fresh environment, meaning when you finish your work hours, you’re in a. nice destination where you can unwind, relax and ultimately become more productive.
In essence, a workation is taking a break from your usual place of work, but not from the work itself. Think of it as ‘working away from the workplace’.
So you’d be sending emails while sunning yourself. Hitting targets while hitting the beach, anywhere in the world. Working the hours while winding down.
What’s the difference between taking a workation and being a digital nomad?
Workations and digital nomadism are two sides of the same coin.
Both involve work, travel, and a good dose of adventure. But here's the key difference: while digital nomads tend to lead a more nomadic lifestyle, perpetually on the move and calling the entire world their office, workations are more like temporary stints.
Digital nomads are globe-trotting travellers, often spotted in co-working spaces across all four corners of the globe. These modern adventurers have swapped the traditional home office for a nomadic lifestyle, living out of their suitcases and diving headfirst into different cultures while keeping up with their work commitments. They’re typically self-employed entrepreneurs or work for companies doing software development or marketing, things like that.
Workations, on the other hand, are like mini-adventures; a temporary escape from the norm. It's about experiencing the joy of working remotely, but from a location that feels more like a holiday resort than your usual workspace. It's about being away for a specific period of time, dipping your toes into the digital nomad lifestyle without fully committing to it.
They two choices offer different options for breaking free from the traditional office environment, providing you with a nice taste of flexibility and freedom. It all depends on your personal preferences and how you envision your ideal work-life balance.
In some respects a workation is a way to sample that digital nomad lifestyle, without leaving your current employer.
The different types of workation
Now that we've got a handle on what a workation is, let's dive into the different ways of actually doing it. There’s no official definition for these, but they do tend to come in these flavours.
- Long-Term Workation: This is for those ready to truly immerse themselves in a different environment, typically lasting a few months or more. It's like temporarily relocating your home office to a new and exciting location.
- Medium-Term Workation: Lasting anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month, this is perfect for those wanting a change of scenery without the long-term commitment. It's a nice middle ground, offering a refreshing break from routine while keeping your professional momentum going.
- Short-Term Workation: This type usually spans a period of about three days to a week. You're escaping your everyday environment, but you're not disconnecting from work. It's ideal for those needing a quick recharge without falling behind on their tasks.
There’s not a huge amount of large-scale research out there, but one survey found that most American workers prefer the short to medium length workation, between 1 and 4 weeks.
Why workations are all the rage
Well, remote work is certainly going nowhere. Despite some companies doing a U-turn after their mid-pandemic love-in for remote work, it’s still absolutely massive. According to the State of Remote Work 2023 report, 71% of companies are set to permanently allow full-time remote work in some capacity.
And that means they should allow for working vacations, too. They’re feasible for many companies and employees, from both a technical and cultural perspective.
What’s more, people are still in the mood for them. The Google Trends graph shows people searching for information on it more and more throughout 2021-2022.
In Japan, the market for workations is predicted to be worth in excess of ¥100 billion (£600m) in 2023.
Companies have realised that many people are equally (if not, more) productive outside the office. They’ve also seen that offering flexible ways of working does wonders for productivity, happiness, loyalty and job satisfaction.
There's a ton of choice when it comes to communication and collaboration apps. MS Teams, Slack, Basecamp, Asana, Zoom, Whereby. Almost anyone can work from almost anywhere.
And besides, times have changed – along with attitudes. We’re coming to grips with the fact that the 9-5 office slog isn't for everyone.
I don't know about you, but commuting for miles every day to sit within the same four walls isn't my cup of tea. Just give me a wifi connection and I'm good to work.
Opinions on workations
Like most work-related topics and new trends, opinion is divided and the jury still out. Here are some thoughts from around the world:
Who can take a workation?
Anyone can take a workation. That said, they’re best suited if you can work remotely without it affecting your job.
This tends to be white-collar, computer-based jobs – because in most cases, the work you do in the office can probably be done anywhere.
Clearly, jobs in hospitality, retail, or blue-collar professions aren’t particularly suited to workations.
On the other hand, those who work in creative professions are a good fit – especially those who rely on a change of scenery, new experiences, and inspiration to produce their best work.
What’s the difference between remote work and workations?
Not much, in a practical sense. But remote work tends to be a permanent arrangement, and most remote workers are actually based at home.
So in theory, a workation is less of a commitment than full-time remote - they're designed to be temporary trips rather than new lifestyles.
Here are a few different ways you could make it work:
- An additional week at the end of your family holiday where you switch to working and your family continue hitting the beach - not a bad way to make the most of the summer holidays.
- A month off on a long haul adventure to an exotic destination.
- Or maybe even an extended stay with family or friends who've moved abroad.
Persuading a boss that it's feasible might be a challenge, but with the big switch to remote working maybe you'll find your boss more open to the idea. You're going to have to prove you can work away from the office, and show that it won't affect your productivity.
What are the benefits of a workation?
Believe it or not, workations can be a win-win for everyone.
For employers that offer offer unlimited holiday, they’re ideal. Instead of someone disappearing for weeks on end, they might take a workation instead.
It’s a good way to find balance with absence and productivity – keeping the wheels in motion while keeping the smile on people’s faces.
Being chained to your desk all day isn’t good for body nor mind. And besides, is our purpose in life really to spend all day in an office?
Workations also give you more time to travel than a regular holiday, so you can see the world and earn money at the same time. What could be better?
Other potential benefits of workations include:
- Increase in motivation
- Increase in productivity
- Increase in creativity
- Increase in employee retention
And the downsides of workations?
Downsides? Surely not?
Workations aren’t for everyone. Some believe that mixing business with leisure is counterproductive, or ‘oxymoronic’ as this tweet puts it:
Mic.com describes workations as ‘the saddest sign of our times’ – citing the loss of work-life balance and the absurdity of spending money to travel somewhere exotic only to waste it by working all day.
And to a certain extent, it’s true. You’ve got expenses to consider – travel, accommodation, food, and other living costs.
And with work in the way, you have to ask yourself: will I actually have time to enjoy myself?
From personal experience, workations didn’t work for me.
In 2018, I planned to build a business on the road while travelling. While being in a new place was refreshing, it was also distracting. Coming home and finding a regular spot to work (even if it’s in rainy Manchester) proved to be the best thing for my productivity.
There’s also the risk that the lines between work and play become blurred.
Can you really enjoy the sun-drenched vistas of the Caribbean if your phone is pinging with Slack messages that you can’t ignore?
And then there’s the tax and right-to-work implications. Sometimes, getting a working visa is easier said than done. Especially now, for UK citizens looking to work in the EU.
Where should you go on workation?
We’re not really a travel guide, but we have seen some popular workation destinations that keep popping up with folks in our scene.
- Portugal, especially Lisbon, is popping off in 2023. Historic charm, vibrant culture, and fantastic weather, it’s a big favourite among workation enthusiasts. The city’s also known for its thriving digital nomad community and range of co-working spaces.
- Spain: Spain's sun-drenched cities and laid-back lifestyle make it a top choice for a ‘workcation’. Do we really need to say more?
- Thailand: It’s long been seen as a paradise for remote workers. Its affordable cost of living, friendly locals, and abundance of co-working spaces, particularly in cities like Chiang Mai and Bangkok, make it a highly sought-after spot. But it might have become over-saturated, and ‘digital bro-mads’ behaving badly have given laptop-wielding visitors a bit of a poor reputation with the locals.
- Estonia: Estonia might be small, but it's a digital powerhouse. The country even offers a Digital Nomad Visa, so you’ll find plenty of working travellers to hang out with if you visit.
- Singapore: Singapore offers a mix of urban luxury and tropical beauty. It's an ideal workation destination due to its high-speed internet, safe streets, and a melting pot of cultures.
- Anywhere with an internet connection. Really, the choice is yours, and you don’t have to rack up a load of carbon emissions to get a break. You could rent a cabin or cottage in the countryside of your own nation, just to get away from it all for a bit.
Workations at Timetastic
So what's our stance on the matter – do we allow workations?
The truth is no one at Timetastic has brought it up yet, no one has asked for a workation, so we've not had to confront it as a real thing. But perhaps they don't need to...
We're all remote workers anyway, we genuinely don't care where people work from.
And we have flexible work schedules – you can choose when you work (although with customer support, we need to make sure key hours are covered).
So in that respect anyone at Timetastic could go and work anywhere in the world. And maybe with that flexibility a specific workation policy isn't necessary.
Note: We'd love to show you how Timetastic works, it's a much easier way to keeop track of staff holidays. Here's a direct link to create a free 30 day trial.
Workations straddle a strange line between holiday, remote work, and sabbaticals. If you’ve got the option to take one, put some thought into it before jetting off – and always plan ahead.
You'll have spotted that we're strong believers in a healthy work-life balance. Time off, holidays, rest and recuperation are essential, so booking staff holidays shouldn’t be a headache. That's why we made a simple app to take care of it, the only headache is deciding what to do with your free time. Have a trial on us – it’s totally free to see how it works.