Traveling to a remote or interesting place and working remotely is becoming more and more common. Here’s why a workcation might be right for you and how to plan one.
One of the intriguing aspects of the shift to remote and hybrid working is that workers who were previously close to their desks are no longer tethered to a specific space. Many of us have taken advantage of this fact during the pandemic. Maybe you or the person on the other end of a video conference could have mountains in the background one week and palm trees the next.
What is a workcation?
These one-off trips evolved into the formal idea of a “workcation”, or a trip to another location with the intention of working there rather than focusing primarily on rest and relaxation. Although the concept is still new and may seem somewhat sneaky, when done well it can benefit both the employee and their employer.
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The simple act of changing scenery can improve productivity and work-life balance, at least anecdotally. It’s also an easy way to provide a tangible benefit to employees at minimal cost to the employer.
The logistics of planning a workcation
If you’re considering a workcation, your first impulse might be to book a trip to your favorite vacation spot, perhaps with visions of virtual meetings in the morning and margaritas on the beach in the evening. However, the factors that make for an enjoyable and relaxing vacation do not always add up to effective work.
Plan your schedule
For your first forays into a workcation, consider a limited period. Two weeks is a good start, as it gives you plenty of time to learn about your new location and the pros and cons of working away from your usual home. While it may be tempting to fly away without telling anyone, it’s worth pushing the idea through to your co-workers and management. Come up with a plan and specific details on how the work will benefit the organization, or at least allow you to be as efficient as you are working from home.
Present your workcation
You might even present the workcation as very beneficial to your business. If you work on a global team, your workplace may coincide with a key international office or allow you to work in the same time zone as a team you frequently collaborate with. Being close to a regional or international office can also help if you run into connectivity issues or technical issues. A nearby office can also provide a group of people who know the area and can help you settle in and experience your temporary home like a local.
Arrange your working hours
Once you get to your place of work, it’s worth staying “over-connected”, at least for the first few days, especially if you’re a work pioneer in your company. Try to match your home working hours, unless explicit local working hours provide a particular benefit. Feel free to share the occasional story about the benefits of being in a different place, whether it’s increased energy and focus or building new personal relationships with colleagues in a different office.
Challenges in planning a workcations
Perhaps the thorniest challenges of a workcation are legal and tax issues, especially if you’re considering an international destination.
Even if you are a US citizen and are staying in the US, most states tax income earned while in that state and require an individual to file a tax return. In some states, as little as one hour of work at that location requires you to file a tax return there. Be prepared to track the hours you work in your other state and have additional fees and paperwork during tax season to file correctly.
Internationally, some countries consider you a local worker and require a work visa after a certain period of time. These questions are very complex and deserve some research before flying away for several months in another country. Interestingly, a growing number of countries are creating “digital nomad” visas that allow for long-term stays and simplified applications.
Tips for planning a workcation
In addition to the legal and compliance steps required for a workcation, be sure to consider the logistics of seemingly basic issues such as:
- How will I get around my workplace? Should I budget for a rental car, rail pass, bicycle or other means of transport?
- Is the internet quality acceptable and are the connections reliable?
- Can I communicate well enough to meet basic needs like shopping, getting around town, and answering basic questions about services?
- Do I need special phone plans, adapters or electrical equipment?
- What will I do with my residence? How will I pay my bills and check my house?
Start small, perhaps visiting a friend or family member somewhere interesting, and see if you can stay productive while away from home. Get ready for maximum success to test whether you like the workcation concept and prove that you can stay efficient and productive. After a few successful tests, consider longer or more logistically challenging work assignments.
Spending more time in an exciting place is one of the great benefits of remote and hybrid working and has rewritten the rulebook of how and where we work. Whether you’re starting your career and you’re endlessly flexible, or you have a family and you’re a senior executive, you can probably design a job that works for you and your employer.