| Aug 24, 2022

The Workcation — the Next Big Thing or Just a Fad?

It is not a working vacation and it is not a new twist on digital nomadism. But it may be the unlikely sweetener to lure top talent.
By Kyle Pare |

3 minutes

Imagine a business trip to a beautiful beachside resort where you perform your typical duties instead of traveling for a conference or client meetings. Sound amazing? We are talking about the “workcation,” a new trend in the business world where COVID showed average white-collar workers the appeal of a lifestyle usually reserved for digital nomads

If you can work from your house, why can’t you work from an apartment in Italy as long as you have an internet connection? Is the workcation here to stay or just a fashion that will fade fast? Is it even a good thing? 

Remote Work Set the Foundation

Remote work has been a niche work arrangement for decades, getting its start as home-based customer service or call centers where all you needed was a phone. Until the COVID-19 pandemic, working remotely was relatively uncommon; the people who could land a job that would allow them to work from home instead of the office were a small, albeit lucky, group of employees. 

Widespread high-speed internet and better cybersecurity practices made remote working more feasible. Still, it was not until the jolt the pandemic provided that a large swath of the population started noticing the benefits that a remote lifestyle could have. If you are working on a computer most of the day anyway, the thinking goes, why can’t you do that from home? Although the business world wasn’t fully ready to embrace remote work, it came on with a vengeance. 

The pandemic contributed to a shift in mindset in the business world. We are still watching this shift play out, and there is no telling where it ends. Still, many managers saw that remote workers could be as productive as in-office workers, particularly in jobs that didn’t require a physical presence or extensive collaboration. With this paradigm shift and the logistical requirements for remote work established, the pieces were (mostly) in place to introduce a novel concept — the workcation. 

Business Trip, Digital Nomads, and the Workcation

What exactly is a workcation? We can try to stuff it into existing boxes regarding work arrangements, but it is a new trend. Any busy leader is familiar with the concept of a working vacation, where bringing your laptop to Fiji or Bermuda isn’t optional, and your phone had better be on. Theoretically, however, the primary purpose of a working vacation is vacation, not work. 

You may even have a vacation coincide with a business trip — with meetings or conferences to attend, and vendors to visit, but once those few tasks are done, you can enjoy some time off. Not so for the workcation, where you work remotely away from home. Whether you are at a European hotel or a ski lodge in the Rockies, your imagination (and the presence of reliable internet) is theoretically the only limit to a workcation.

Where business trips were often short-term, a workcation is an extended hiatus coupled with remote work. You might be out of the office for several weeks, or if your job allows, even months. This might sound a lot like the life of a digital nomad, and in a sense, it is. However, the difference is the novelty of working away from home — a digital nomad has no such tethers under normal circumstances. 


The Benefits of a Workcation

There are several genuine benefits from taking a workcation from both the employee’s and the employer’s perspectives. Experiencing a new locale can carry mental health benefits, not least of which is stimulating creativity. For modern businesses, a little jolt of creativity can provide some much-needed advantages over the competition. 

Employees get to see a new place without taking vacation days and return refreshed and ready to contribute. Companies get to enjoy the fruits of higher employee morale without losing productivity. It seems like a win-win. 

Before getting entirely on board with the workcation trend, however, there are questions concerning the logistics. Obviously, most of these would be addressed with an official company policy. Furthermore, the differences between companies would be a selling point to recruits. Who pays for the airfare, lodging, and expenses? Placing those burdens squarely on the employee might unfairly discriminate against who could afford to take a workcation.

Is that built into an employee’s compensation plan if the company covers the cost? Are there any effects or repercussions if you don’t take a workcation? Must you keep office hours, or is there a list of tasks to complete? How a company answers those questions could impact whether workcations are here to stay. 

A New Tool in Employee Benefits

The workcation could be an exciting new benefit that companies eager to attract new talent can offer. If a job applicant is weighing two offers and one of the companies lets them work from anywhere in the world for a month out of the year, it could sway their decision. Add the potential for a portion of the travel expenses to be covered, and you may have sold the deal. Others may pass if the workcation is an expensive, self-funded way to move office for a few weeks. 

Kyle Pare

Opinion Contributor, Strixus

Kyle Pare has been a freelance writer for two years and a communications officer in the military for nine. view profile


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