Magazine
9:32 4 October 2022
Post by: WBJ

Workcations: blending work and travel comes into vogue

Tempted by the thought of taking your work with you on holiday? You are not alone. Working vacations are an increasingly popular option for busy professionals who are willing to pack their laptops when heading out for a change of scenery. by Anna Rzhevkina

Workcations: blending work and travel comes into vogue

This summer, while on a hike in the Pyrenees Mountains, I met Vincent, a traveler from Spain, carrying a laptop in his backpack. Every morning Vincent worked several hours in a hotel or café and then spent the rest of his day immersed in nature. This is an example of a “workcation” or “working vacation,” a trend that has emerged during the pandemic and keeps gaining popularity.


At first glance, combining work with holidays crosses the line between a career and a personal life. However, while some people strive to achieve the perfect work-life balance, others prefer blending both personal and professional responsibilities. For example, business people can answer emails while waiting to collect their child from school or go to the gym between work hours.


During the pandemic, when most people switched to working from home, keeping clear boundaries between work and other aspects of life became nearly impossible. Though lockdowns are now over, they have led many to discover that work-life integration allows for greater professional productivity and the simultaneous enjoyment of activities that one could not afford with a traditional 9 to 5 schedule.


In response, top international companies such as Google, Spotify, and Airbnb have adopted “Work from anywhere” policies, allowing employees to choose their location for several months per year. In Poland, this trend has only begun gaining pace. For example, in August, Danone Polska offered its employees the possibility to work up to 30 days from anywhere in Europe. The company has three requirements: a supervisor’s consent, stable internet access, and a safe and ergonomic workplace. It may sound simple, but not every holiday house is suitable for work. The most common issues are a weak internet connection and the lack of a desk.


It's not like Instagram


Sitting with a laptop by the sea only looks great in photos. In reality, the sun shines in your eyes, the wind throws sand everywhere, and the internet is probably not strong enough to connect to a video call. Working from a bed or a sunbed is not the best strategy in the long term. It is unhealthy for the back and focus is difficult.


There are two simple ways to ensure that the location is suitable for a productive workcation. The first one is to get in touch directly with the owner and ask whether there is a convenient workspace. The second approach is to rely on properties selected specifically for travelers who seek to combine leisure and work. The Wrocław-based company Tripoffice offers a network of apartments for digital nomads and remote workers. The portal works similarly to popular rental services like Airbnb and Booking.com, but every apartment is equipped with an ergonomic chair, a height-adjustable desk, and a stable internet connection.


Major tour operators Itaka and Tui have  a dedicated offer of hotels for workcations. There are both family-friendly options and adults-only hotels for professionals looking for a quieter atmosphere. Popular locations include the Canary Islands, Portugal and Greece, all known for their sunny weather and beautiful beaches. Other important criteria for choosing a workcation destination are the cost of living and time zone. Workcation is especially popular among IT specialists and creative professionals, such as designers, photographers, and writers. Many note that changing environments helps them come up with fresh ideas and find unconventional solutions. 


Wojciech Szywalski, Nexelem Product Marketing Manager at Virtus Labs, says he found a workcation to be a great way to spend time with family without interrupting his work. His favorite destination is the Polish mountains, because it provides the infrastructure to work, rest and take care of children. Wojciech notes that a dream workcation can differ from person to person: families may want to ensure that there is a nursery service available, while singles often prefer remote places with wild nature. 


Asked about workcation challenges, Wojciech said that the greatest obstacle is not the workspace setup, but the mindset: “I am really passionate about my job, and sometimes I promise to myself that I will work 4-5 hours and spend the rest with my family, but then it’s hard to stop.” He adds that a workcation helps him organize work efficiently because he has the motivation to get things done faster. For those who plan a workcation abroad, his advice is to buy a local sim card with an internet connection because roaming charges can add up quickly add.


Wojciech notes that blending work with holidays makes employees happier and helps with team-building. “It is easy to communicate and discuss everything when people travel and spend time together,” he noted.


Michael Opydo, Managing Director at the digital marketing agency KomuKoncept, went with his team to a villa in Szczyrk, a town in the Beskid Śląski Mountains in the south of Poland. They spent three days there, combining social activities, leisure, and work. However, instead of a regular workplace, they had a terrace with a stunning view. “I think it was great for building relations, understanding each other and building the company's culture,” he told Warsaw Business Journal. 


Michael noted that his company wants to maintain all the pros of remote work but aims to have a team that knows each other, so that a workcation can become a solution. “You don't need to go far – sometimes the best ideas for integrating your team require nothing else but a good idea, pen, and paper,” he said. 


Hotels with co-working spaces, discounts for a longer stay, and companies’ flexible policies make the workcaction more affordable than ever. Previously, this was an option for the self-employed and freelancers, but now regular employees can blend work and travel, too. Workcations, however, aren’t substitutes for traditional vacations; they are an additional tool that allow for a break from the regular routine. 



3 questions about the workcation


Is a workcation legal in Poland?

There is not yet uniform legislation for remote work in Poland and every company sets its own policies. If an employer agrees to a workcation trip for its employee then there is nothing to worry about, as long as it is in compliance with the Labor Code. Employees don’t need to take days off when combining work and holidays. However, they may consider taking a couple days of off in order to get to the destination stress-free and allow time for some sightseeing.  


How to organize the working process?

When working from an unusual place, planning is crucial to avoid stress and overtime. Clearly define the projects and follow the schedule, so that tasks do not pile up. When travelling with family and friends, agree with them on working and leisure time slots in advance. Finally, multitasking is not an optimal strategy because it makes focusing harder and creates the risk of leaving tasks unfinished.


Are there any downsides?

For some, going to a new place is like taking a fresh breath, yet others may struggle to adapt and remain productive. Also, a workcation can be costly, especially if staying in hotels. Finally, one can never fully disconnect from work and must juggle to find a balance between keeping deadlines and travelling.


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