Do workations—traveling to a fun or relaxing destination but still working remotely—work? That’s what the folks at Passport Photo Online wanted to find out. Once travel restrictions were reduced in the early part of the pandemic, vacant hotels and vacation rental homes filled up not just with vacationers but with workers who desperately needed a change of scenery. Workations suddenly became all the rage.
How is the great work/play experiment going? Let’s dive in and find out.
In a poll of more than 1,000 American workers who recently went on workations, Passport Photo Online found that:
- About 67% took workations to “recharge their mental and emotional batteries.”
- Another 94% plan to workation again.
- A whopping 86% claimed their workations boosted their productivity.
- 81% of Americans grew more creative at work after taking a workation.
- Nearly 69% are less likely to quit after going on workation.
- As many as 83% believe workations help them cope with burnout.
- About 84% are now more satisfied with their job post workation.
Most of these workations lasted between one and four weeks. However, 22% of the workations were long-term, lasting one month or more. They included domestic travel primarily, although that may have been due to early COVID-19 travel restrictions and concerns. Most stayed with friends or family, but hotels and Airbnbs were also popular.
Sounds like it might be a great idea, right? It could be, but certain factors can make or break the experience. When considering a workation:
Don’t forgo actual time off. Passport Photo Online found that those who took workations did so to recharge their mental and emotional batteries. While workations seem to have a positive effect, they don’t compare to actual vacation time. American workers notoriously take fewer vacations, work longer days, and even retire later than their foreign counterparts. The madness peaked pre-pandemic when one in four Americans didn’t take a day off during the 2019 holidays, and more than half let the year slip away without using all of their paid vacation days. “If you have vacation days available, use them and unplug from work fully. It’s the best way to recharge, so it’s a win-win for you and your employer,” says The HT Group Director of Operations Anne Walker.
Ask appropriately. Requesting a workation is similar to requesting vacation time. Perhaps your employer already has a policy in place for temporary remote work. But if they don’t, prepare your request carefully and be sure it’s reasonable. Some jobs are hard to accomplish remotely. Many employers have a hard time saying “yes” to a workation lasting longer than a week. You may also need to prove that your environment will be conducive to productivity (more on that below).
Be realistic about the environment. Your workation will fail spectacularly if you’re not set up for success. Those who had positive experiences from the Passport Photo Online poll ensured that they had reliable internet in place, a suitable space to work, and a quiet room for meetings (if needed). It’s also important to be realistic about your ability to focus while in a vacation setting. Frankly, we’re surprised 86% of workation-ers felt that their productivity was boosted on their workations. It can be tough to stay the course when there’s fun and distractions happening all around you.
Carefully consider the location. A recent poll found that more than half of Americans who worked remotely during the pandemic weren’t aware of the possible tax consequences once they crossed state lines. Tax consequences? Yes. Things can get even trickier for you and your employer if you work from a different country. The longer you’re in another state or country, the more complicated your situation could become. “Your manager and HR department need to know where you’re working from so you can both stay compliant,” says Walker. It’s not a bad idea to let your tax advisor know, too, because living and working away from home for a long period of time could throw your tax residency into question.
While workations seem to be popular—and many appear to make it work—don’t make “always working” your career goal. Take the time off you deserve (and find an employer who shares your view on the subject) and reserve workations for that extra boost you can get from switching things up.