The way employees work has changed over the past few years. Innovative processes and advanced technologies have introduced new buzzwords in the world of work.
These buzzwords matter to an HR leader because they may represent the digital evolution of HR or indicate current trends in the world of work.
One of the trending phrases you've probably heard is workation. But what does it mean? Why is it popular? Is a workation suitable for your organization? Let's dive in.
What is a workation?
Workation originates from the words work and vacation. It means combining work and leisure to allow employees to relax and be more productive. Think of it as working during vacation.
Research shows that workations are increasingly popular in organizations in the US and Europe. The advancement in workplace productivity tools and collaboration technologies have made it easier for workers to stay on top of projects from remote locations while enjoying a break from the hustle of daily life.
The pandemic played a primary role in the rise of workations. The pandemic forced businesses to implement remote work. Other companies implemented hybrid work models, which are becoming the new normal. Because of the pandemic, work and travel are now intertwined.
Hybrid models combine a few days working remotely and other days working in the office. As a result of fully remote and hybrid working models during the pandemic, remote employees could take a workation.
Types of workations
There are three categories of workations, depending on how long they last:
- Short-term workation
- Medium-term workation
- Long-term workation
This type of workation lasts for a few days like a three-day, mid-week trip or a weekend break. A short-term workation is usually in a nearby area. For example, a person in Los Angeles can take a short-term workation in Phoenix, Arizona.
Medium-term workations last a few weeks to almost a month, and the vacation area is usually further from home than when taking a short-term workation. Medium-term workations are generally taken within the country.
Long-term workations last between several months and a couple of years. These workations involve temporary relocation to another area. Most often, long-term workations require special permits and visas because they involve moving abroad or to a nearby country.
That said, there are two types of workations depending on the number of people involved:
- Group workation
- Solo workation
Your company can organize a workation for a group of employees, usually lasting for a few days to a week.
Individual employees can also go for a workation. Solo workation allows the employee to organize their stay suitably.
Why are workations becoming more popular?
According to a 2021 poll, 74% of remote workers in America consider taking a workcation. Another survey shows that remote work is overwhelmingly successful for both employers and employees.
For this reason, remote work and hybrid models are becoming the new normal post-pandemic, enabling employees' location flexibility. With location and working hours flexibility, remote workers can work from anywhere they please, making workations increasingly popular.
Productivity increased due to flexible working hours, fewer distractions associated with in-office work routines, and less time commuting. These are the same perks that increase the popularity of working while on vacation.
Most importantly, taking a workation is possible because dozens of tools and technologies—like Microsoft Teams and Zoom—foster communication and collaboration among remote employees.
As studies and surveys suggest, workations are popular because remote work provides flexible ways to boost employee productivity and job satisfaction. In fact, 86% of employees agree or strongly agree a workation boosted their productivity.
The benefits and challenges of a workation
As with everything else in life, a workation has a good and bad side. This section shows why you should consider workations in your company and the challenges you will face if you implement the idea.
Advantages of a workation
There are numerous advantages of having a workation:
- Increased job satisfaction
- Lower employee turnover
- Increased employee productivity
- Improved employee morale
- Better well-being
- Reduced burnout
- Higher quality of work from employees
Let’s explore these benefits in greater detail.
A workation can increase job satisfaction and lower employee turnover in your company. Throughout the pandemic, some workers have enjoyed working remotely so much that, according to a survey, 39% of employees would consider resigning if their employers were not flexible about remote work. Considering that remote work is an integral part of workations, implementing them in your business can be a way of retaining your best talent.
Apart from increasing job satisfaction, workations can increase employee productivity in your company. A workation is essentially working while on vacation.
As a result, employees can integrate leisure with work, allowing them to relax and be more productive. Employees on a workation enjoy new experiences that can boost their morale and encourage them to be more productive. Research shows an enriching effect across leisure and work, which explains why a workation can improve employee productivity in your company.
Workations allow employees to break free from monotonous work life and explore new places. In addition, working while on vacation breaks the monotony of working in the same place daily. Working in the same place can be repetitive and mundane, reducing employee morale and motivation.
A study shows that flexible work arrangements are primary in moderating employee productivity and well-being—workations are flexible.
Since workations provide flexible working hours, they can help employees create free time and reduce burnout. Depending on the project, an employee can finish assigned work in short milestones with several breaks. During the breaks, the employee can go on short walks, watch beautiful sceneries, enjoy moments on the beach, or do any other fun activity.
Workations enable employees to spend their free time on activities and hobbies they usually have limited time for when working in the office. The idea is that the employee won't stay chained to their working desk the whole day, preventing burnout.
Remote work, as the core of workations, reduces distractions associated with in-office work. Fewer distractions may mean less pressure and employees being more relaxed to produce better work. This can increase the quality of work in your organization.
Challenges of a workation
Not every employee is going to love going on a workation. Here’s why:
- Some employees prefer their office setting
- Time spent on leisure activities may come at the expense of work
- Working during a vacation disrupts the idea of work-life balance
- Workations can be expensive
Studies have shown that not all employees prefer working remotely. Some workers prefer the office environment where they perform their duty as they interact with other employees.
A survey of 9,000 workers in 6 countries shows that 12% of employees always prefer to work in an office setting.
The idea of working while on vacation is against work-life balance.
Workations can sometimes be counterproductive, especially when you invest more time in leisure than at work. Apart from that, workations can result in loss of work-life balance.
Aren't employees supposed to break entirely from work when on holiday? Work and vacation combined blur the line between the two. As a result, some employees taking a workation may begin to merge their personal lives with work.
While workations might save time and money associated with commuting, they come with other expenses. Traveling, food, accommodation, and additional living costs can quickly pile up. For this reason, workation can be expensive, especially if the employees are flying abroad.
Now that you understand the perks and challenges of a workation, is it suitable for your company? Let's find out.
Is a workation suitable for your company?
While workations come with tremendous advantages that are difficult to ignore, working on a vacation does not suit employees in every company. Some activities cannot be done remotely, like:
- Operating machinery
- Processing customer transactions in stores
- Caring for patients
- Using lab equipment
For this reason, workations are best suited for jobs that aren't affected by working remotely. Examples of these jobs include:
- Content creation
- Data analysis
Overall, client-facing jobs and jobs in the retail and hospitality industries cannot be done remotely. That's because face-to-face communication and in-person presence is a must. If these are the jobs in your company, workations might not suit you.
Top 5 tips on planning a workation
To ensure employees get the best out of a workation, you need to consider the following tips:
- Be careful when setting the time for remote meetings. Ensure you consider time zones where employees will be going for their workation to avoid inconveniencing them.
- Do you want the employees to focus more on the work or the vacation? You should establish whether you want them to simply do their regular job in a new location or work less and focus more on vacation. (This information will help you decide whether employees will work half-days during the workation or regular hours and only use evenings and weekends to explore their new location.)
- Determine how long the workation will take. This information will help you prepare the appropriate budget and establish how far the employees will travel during the workation. For example, short-term workations can be within driving distances and are suitable for small budgets.
- Determine the location of the workation. The chosen location should promote fun activities or have something intriguing—otherwise, what's the point of the workation? Your budget plays a primary role in determining the appropriate location.
- The accommodation should have a good internet connection.
Part of the changing job of any HR leader is to stay on top of the future of work and ensure their organization is ready to get there. Workations are a trend that began during the Covid-19 crisis and is increasingly popular post-pandemic. If a workation suits your business, planning one can help your company provide new working environments and boost employee productivity.