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Workation Work Trend: What It Is and How To Take Its Full Advantage

pros and cons of workation, a new work trend

As the number of permanently remote positions across the globe continues to rise, a new lifestyle trend has emerged: the workation.

Workation — a combination of “work” and “vacation” — is a booming trend where fully remote employees complete their regular 9-5 work while staying at a vacation destination. This concept may sound counterintuitive, but there is a reason why more workers are adopting this method.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the details of workations:

  • What is a workation?

  • When did this trend begin?

  • What are the pros and cons of taking a workation?

Read on to get the answers to your most pertinent questions and learn expert tips on ensuring you have the most successful workation.

Table of Contents

What Is a Workation?

A workation is an experience where employees complete work remotely from vacation destinations. The concept allows workers to maximize PTO and improve work-life balance by combining productivity and travel.

Because the phenomenon is relatively new, there is not yet an exact definition of how much work needs to be completed to classify a vacation as a “workation.” Employees may respond to emails, attend a few meetings, produce 50% of average output, or fully complete their workload during travels.

How Does a Workation Differ From Remote Work?

Remote work is typically done from the comfort of your home, a community, or a public space. It allows workers to succeed in their roles while tending to personal obligations.

A workation involves working from a destination chosen for relaxation, exploration, or leisure. Remote employees may decide to go on a workation to get a change of scenery or maximize PTO.

Workation: When Did This Trend Take Off?

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the world in countless ways. Most notably, lockdown measures in 2020 forced employees to leave the office indefinitely to work from home, forever changing the dynamic of the American workplace.

While companies were initially hesitant about making the switch, studies found that employees were significantly more productive while working from home. Thus, many employers continued offering remote positions after the COVID-19 lockdowns ended.

In 2018, approximately 5.7% of employees in the US worked remotely. In 2023, that number has risen to 27%.

A spike in the number of employees working remotely combined with a significant drop in hotel prices worldwide due to the pandemic led to the introduction of a new type of worker: the digital nomad.

A digital nomad is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “a person who earns a living working online in various locations of their choosing (rather than a fixed business location).” In other words, digital nomads are remote employees that take extended or repeated workations.

Types of Workations You Might Take

Short-term workation – A short-term workation typically only lasts for two or three days and usually occurs at a destination closer to home. For example, you might stay in a rental home in a nearby city for a few days for a brief change in scenery.

Medium-term workation – A medium-term workation can last between a week and a month and often occurs within the same continent you reside in.

Long-term workation – Long-term workations are the most popular option for digital nomads. Employees may relocate to a new area for several months or years while continuing to work remotely from that location. These workations can occur anywhere that offers a remote work permit or “digital nomad” visa.

Group workation – You may decide to travel with a group. Workations can be far more enjoyable in the company of coworkers, friends, or family.

Solo workation – You might go solo if you prefer more freedom and flexibility during your travels.

Workation Destination: Best Places To Go for a Workation

Much like a regular vacation, you can pick whichever destination fits you best.

However, you’ll want to make sure that you’re able to complete all of your work obligations during your travels, so there are some factors to consider before making your decision:

  • Look for a hotel or rental with amenities necessary to complete your work obligations. Your job may require fast Wi-Fi, a printer, or specific computer software.

  • Take the destination’s time zone into account. You want to ensure that you can still fully collaborate and take meetings during your travels.

  • Consider the cost of living. Workations reduce stress by improving work-life balance and increasing job satisfaction. Choosing a destination that breaks the bank may not be worth it since you will likely spend half of your time working in your hotel room or rental.

  • If you’re traveling abroad, be sure to pick a country that offers digital nomad visas. Working on a tourist visa isn’t technically legal.

5 Benefits of a Workation

Instead of going on the standard five-day vacation, remote employees may take a short-term, medium-term, or long-term workation. They may pack up and head to an Airbnb in the mountains for a few days to get a quick change in scenery or spend a few months living in the tropics.

Workations offer remote employees flexibility and better work-life balance, among many other benefits including the following.

#1: Increased Productivity

Working while staying at a hotel or rental can reduce distractions caused by nagging chores, surprise visitors, and noisy neighbors or roommates. Hotels, in particular, will provide you with predictability, fast (and free) Wi-Fi connectivity, and regular house cleaning.

With a workation, you can enjoy the perks of completing your assignments from a stress-free, clean environment with minimal distractions.

#2: Increased Creativity

Immersion in nature, beautiful cities, and engaging activities often inspire creativity in travelers, which inevitably shows in employees' work.

If your position involves design or innovation, a workation could help to increase your overall performance.

#3: Improved Staff Retention

Remote employees who take workations report better work-life balance. Workations allow workers to mix work and leisure, reducing stress and making them more likely to stay with their current employer.

With better work-life balance comes increased job satisfaction. Employees that can complete their regular 9-5 work from beautiful workation destinations also report being much happier with their role at the company.

Encouraging a digital nomad lifestyle is just one of the ways that companies can ensure high employee retention rates.

#4: Networking Opportunities

Networking is easy to do when you're traveling. At home, you've likely already encountered many people in your area who have shared interests or similar careers.

Workations offer a change of scenery and an entirely new set of people — sometimes even potential business connections.

#5: Saving Paid Time Off

Employee productivity has been continuously rising — and has been for decades.

If you’re in a profession that allows them, workations can be a great way to enjoy traveling without having to cut into your PTO — though we recommend using your PTO to treat yourself to some time away from work.

While it’s important that employees use as much of their PTO as they can to avoid potential burnout, for some, it’s absolutely impossible to use all of their PTO. So, what happens then?

With Sorbet, you can advance your leftover PTO that’s accruing month after month, or year after year, and use it to enjoy your planned vacation.

5 Disadvantages of a Workation

While workations can be a game changer in the lives of many remote employees, they certainly come with their own challenges.

Completing your assignments, meetings, and personal obligations may be challenging without your home comforts and amenities. Or perhaps your dream destination does not currently offer visas for digital nomads.

Whatever the complication, a workation may be more detrimental than beneficial and may not always be the best option for remote workers.

#1: Loss of Work-Life Balance

Some may appreciate the balance of working from a vacation destination, while others may have great difficulty finding a balance between work and leisure.

Many vacations are best enjoyed when you can do what you want with every minute of your time off. Work obligations might prevent you from going on a sightseeing trip or starting a hike just in time to watch a gorgeous sunset at the top of the peak.

While many digital nomads love the ability to enjoy sightseeing and adventures after they close their laptops, not everybody has an easy time fully enjoying their free time without worrying about upcoming deadlines and meetings.

#2: Being Away From the Comfort of Home

Remote employees tend to have their homes equipped with the technology needed to thrive — fast Wi-Fi, printers, computer software, and whatever else may be required to complete work assignments.

Packing up your laptop and notebooks before heading off on vacation is easy, but finding accommodations for your other work needs may require research before you go.

#3: Personal Logistics

Fully remote jobs can offer many benefits for working parents. It allows them to bring in a steady income without worrying about the added costs of childcare or finding transportation to their kids' extracurriculars and appointments.

Workations may be challenging for employees with children or other obligations at home, especially for those who cannot find temporary childcare or housesitters while they are away. Not everyone can uproot to enjoy a new destination for an extended time.

#4: Visas and Work Permits

Working while vacationing on a tourist visa is technically illegal, although this rule is not strictly enforced in most places. Regardless, this complication may cause digital nomads difficulty finding the perfect destination.

Some countries offer work visas for digital nomads, but approval times and other complications may make it challenging to pack up and head there at the drop of a hat.

Working abroad is possible but may require a lot of research and planning before the employee can enjoy the workation destination of their dreams.

#5: Issues With Communication and Collaboration

Depending on the destination, finding a hotel or rental with fast and free Wi-Fi connectivity or printing availability may be challenging. Your workation destination may also be in a different timezone, making it more difficult to collaborate on work assignments and take meetings.

A lot of prior planning may be required to ensure that you have the accommodations necessary to thrive in your position while traveling, and sometimes, a particular vacation may not be possible given your work obligations.

Follow These Tips To Have a Successful Workation

  • Plan ahead by choosing a hotel or rental with the amenities needed for your remote work.

  • Pack your laptop, notebooks, and any other supplies you typically work with.

  • Arrange a workspace at your hotel or rental that is comfortable and distraction-free so that you can fully focus on your tasks.

  • Use time management techniques to help balance work and leisure during your stay.

  • Keep in touch with your team and clients throughout your travels via conferencing and communication platforms.

  • Advance the PTO you’re unable to use with Sorbet to help with the cost of this workation or to fund your next one.

Sorbet: Offering a PTO Advance Solution for Those Hopping on the Workation Trend

Workations can be an excellent way for some employees to improve their work-life balance, but it still leaves the question of what to do with all of those PTO days you’ve been accruing.

With Sorbet, you can unlock the value of all of your accrued PTO and advance it. Now, you can use that money to finance your next real vacation and utilize some of your PTO, or perhaps you’d prefer to spend your workation in a swanky hotel room funded by Sorbet.

At Sorbet, we believe in maximizing your time away from the office. Whether that be by taking a workation now or advancing your unused PTO for its cash value later so that you can plan your next trip, it’s all up to you.

Ready to make the most of your workation and your unused PTO? Let us help!

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