Yes, I said it. We all need to take more workcations. I think we'll all agree that the year we've just had was anything but ‘normal', just look at travel?!
What is a Workcation?
A workcation is more than just working remotely. It’s meant to be on a vacation away from the workplace while still having the opportunity to get your work done. Typically, it’s not just staying at home, working from your bed – instead, you’re meant to pack up for a trip to a relaxing location (that has WiFi available) and recline with your work computer resting on your lap.
You may have already had a similar experience without realizing it. Have you ever taken your work with you when visiting family or wrapped up a project during an extended weekend vacation?
The main purpose is to get away from the office without losing progress on your current projects.
Mental health professionals suggest taking time away from your office whenever you have the opportunity; otherwise, it can become a place of dread, with the idea of waking up and going to work the next day becoming a thought that increases anxiety and depression.
A workcation is meant to give you a visual and physical break from the workplace while still maintaining your responsibilities.
Are Workcations Actually Relaxing?
In a recent TeamViewer study, results showed that about 61% of people taking a vacation worked while on their break and 69% bring at least one work-related device with them. This can put pressure on what’s supposed to be paid time off – so instead, make it count!
When taking a workcation, you go into the “vacation” already anticipating a working environment. Instead of expecting an entirely relaxing setting and time off, which may be interrupted by an email or important phone call, you’re expecting the work but keeping the relaxing environment. Being prepared for that juxtaposition helps you actually relax.
Depending on your line of work, you may still experience some level of stress. Having to take calls, answer emails and messages, and crank out project milestones is already a taxing undertaking.
The goal isn’t to feel disconnected – it’s to make things feel manageable.
You’re not expecting someone to walk past your office or be called into the conference room – instead, you’re taking care of your business in a hotel, on the beach, or overlooking a skyline. The change of scenery is the core of your trip, giving you breathing room away from the stress of others.
How to Ask for a Workcation
If this is an entirely new concept to you, chances are it’s also not a common request your boss has received.
The main point to remember is open communication; your boss doesn’t necessarily need to know all the details of your vacation but giving them highlights is most likely going to make it a smoother request.
Changes in time zones, working different hours, or other absences in your team will need to be discussed, just like if you were taking PTO.
Plan out your request, taking into account how you’ve requested regular time off before and their response. Create a plan that will detail how you’re going to stay on top of your tasks, communicate your progress, and your estimated completion rates. Showing them you’re still prepared to work even while away from the office will help your case.
If your office doesn’t have many requests for workcations, acknowledge that you’re asking for something out of the ordinary and be prepared with evidence of the benefits and productivity statistics.
With an outline for check-ins, project milestones, and team communication, you’ll have all you need to present your request.
Planning Your Workcation Trip
After you have the approval to take your workcation, it's time to put the plan you presented to your boss in action.
Set reasonable timelines:
Be clear with your boss and your team when you’re available to take calls and answer emails and when you’ll be working. To yourself, plan for at least one day or afternoon off. It’s better to anticipate that you’re going to want to take some extra vacation time to yourself, so adjust your schedule to account for that lost time. Make sure that everyone knows how best to reach you while you’re away – call, text, email, or company messages?
Adjust your personal time accordingly. Expect to take a longer lunch or sleep in once in a while – make room in your schedule for these blocks and get ahead whenever you can.
If you’re going somewhere with your family, take into account any possible distractions or needs. If you’re going to have meetings or company calls, find a place nearby that your family understands will function as your working area.
How to Stay Productive in 4 Steps
It’s easy to become caught up in the vacation aspect, taking a bit of extra time out of your day to see the sights. But sticking to your plan needs to be the number one priority. While you don’t want to stay stuck in the hotel all day, your relaxation spot needs to have a few key elements:
Reliable internet connection
Minimal noise and distractions
Security for your items
Once you’ve checked off these requirements, feel free to spend the day in a gazebo or on a beach-side patio. The change in scenery was a big part of your workcation in the first place so find a calming area to park yourself for a few hours.
It’s a good idea to occasionally switch up locations, too. Start with your first few hours in the hotel room, then move to a spot nearby for the next stretch, and maybe venture out even further later in the day. As long as you’re still accessible for calls and emails, your only priority is to get the project milestones done on time.
Here are a few ways you can maintain productivity while on your workcation and still have a relaxing time:
Step 1. Work Ahead:
To give yourself some free space, get ahead of your milestone deadlines. This can be done by either setting a deadline further out or taking initiative and completing the necessary steps before your workcation.
Step 2. Regular Updates:
It may feel like a chore to go out of your way to continuously message your team, but you’re keeping yourself accountable. If they expect an update at a certain time with project results, you’re more likely to get those tasks done on time.
Step 3. Set Boundaries:
If you’re traveling with friends or family, they need to know your schedule needs. Travel with a trustworthy group that won’t guilt trip you into going to attractions when you’ve got a deadline and who won’t constantly interrupt your workflow. Good communication and sticking to your routine will make it easier for everyone involved.
Step 4. Back-Up Plans:
Bring portable chargers, Wi-Fi hotspots, and store your files on the cloud or a portable hard drive. In other words, bring everything you think you may need for any kind of emergency or mistake. Call ahead to the hotel to ask about cellphone coverage and Wi-Fi connectivity and do your own research on the surrounding area.
Discuss with your team the backup procedure if they suddenly can't reach you or if you're experiencing an issue. Being prepared will help keep you relaxed and ready in case the worst happens.
Your Workcation Benefits
It may take a little convincing with your boss, but workcations have many physical and mental health benefits. Your workflow and project deadlines aren’t interrupted and you still have the opportunity to change your scenery and relax.
With a plan in place and regularly scheduled check-ins, you’re more likely to stay on pace and work from areas that give you a relaxing boost to your productivity.
Regular breaks and working outside have been shown to actually restore your attention and increase your work ethic.
Taking that time to yourself is an opportunity to get away from the stressful environment of the office and give your mind an open space for improvement.
So, if you are feeling the struggle with the juggle of life, and finding work just isn't making things easier, a workcation may be just what you need!