The Pros and Cons of the Working Vacation
Workations, or the combination of work with a vacation, have been around a while. For some time now, office workers with access to the internet and a laptop have been able to travel to a vacation destination or even enjoy some downtime at home while staying connected to what's happening at work.
They've become more popular in the post-pandemic workplace as legions of workers who used to be shackled to the office suddenly were able to work remotely. As such, workations offered an excellent opportunity to take a break from the normal routine and balance work tasks with some time off.
With the surge in remote work, people were able to enjoy the benefit of a new place or the beauty of a destination location while still getting work done. The number of digital nomads grew. But what's the long term effect for companies?
Why Workations Are Becoming Popular
For some companies, the main benefit of a workation lies in enabling workers to reconcile work and personal life. The idea of finding work-life balance resonated more deeply during a time when remote workers suddenly found work and life blending together in new and not always positive ways. In this line of thinking, the popularity of workations is simply a sign of the times.
"The surge of workations most probably is due to the times in which we live and work," said Boryana Andreeva, people and culture manager at Sofia, Bulgaria-based Accedia. "We need to be agile enough to adapt quickly to the new work environment, often outside the known office space. On the other hand, they offer a whole new level of work-life balance because you can quite easily combine adventures and travel with your work."
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Are Workations Good for Companies?
If people are engaged, productive members of the team, then their work setting is irrelevant, said Amy Hendler, director of people and talent at Amsterdam, Netherlands-based Bynder.
"Why wouldn't companies want their employees to work in their preferred setting?" she said, adding that its something her company has experimented with for a while now. "Prior to the pandemic, Bynder promoted work-life balance by closing down the office during our Annual Remote Week."
However, not everything is rosy for companies willing to offer workations. There are a few issues to iron out. Hendler cautioned that companies need to keep an eye on compliance and taxation issues when they encourage employees to work where they want.
"It's also important that no matter where our teams are, they have the freedom and tools in place to get the job done," she said.
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Andreeva underlined the importance of remaining compliant when offering workation options. She said that "at the moment, workations are allowed only when the country's measures against the ongoing world pandemic permit it. We encourage workers to take them while respecting every health requirement."
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Pros and Cons to the Workation
Freedom and flexibility are benefits that come from making workations a part of the company's management model. Other pros include:
- Greater Business Agility: A change of scenery might lead to higher productivity and collaboration, and reduce stress levels provided people remain in communication. Creativity can also increase. If a company has distributed teams, a workation may also give people from different teams the opportunity to meet, get to know more about each other and bond outside of the office.
- Potential Increase in Mental Health: Giving employees the freedom to work where they choose can be a major upside for employee mental health. "As the world came to a screeching halt, working from home gave everyone a moment to reflect on our lives and to recalibrate how we balance work and personal lives," Hendler said. "Companies that embrace the fact that the pandemic completely changed the ways employees work, will benefit greatly from retention and employee engagement."
- Increased Employee Accountability: Remote work requires a greater dose of employee accountability. If a worker is responsible enough to remain working while also taking some time off at an exotic location — or her backyard, for that matter — you have a great person in your company. Workations can make employees even more accountable, as they know they need to separate time off from time working and will compartmentalize accordingly.
While the benefits are clear, there are obstacles for companies to consider, including:
- It's Harder to Settle into a New Workplace: Workers may face trouble with creature comforts, such as hot water, or the wi-fi connection, and can't always be sure they'll have all they need to get the job done.
- Keeping Track of Employees: The drawback from the HR side is accountability, especially with a globally scattered workforce. "We try to be as flexible as possible while still compliant, which can be tricky," said Andreeva. "We do miss the face-to-face interactions, but establishing a hybrid work allows us to offer employees the option of multiple settings."
For companies looking for a way to give workers a break from the routine and the chance reconnect with friends, family or colleagues in person while still earning money and staying productive, workations are a viable option.
However, compliance and productivity are essential to make it work. Workers need to be adept remote workers already to ensure they remain productive and communicative.
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