Have you heard of the term 'workation'? It's a blend of 'work' and 'vacation,' it's becoming quite the trend in our era of remote work and digital nomadism, where people can work from anywhere with a stable internet connection. This allows them to travel or stay in vacation-like settings while fulfilling their work responsibilities. It's important to note that the specifics of a workation can vary significantly based on individual or company policies and the nature of the work being done.
I recently spent some time in a picturesque town called Oberammergau in southern Germany. The town is renowned for its stunning mountain ranges, delightful brezen, and traditional weißwurst. We rented a house during my stay and fully immersed ourselves in the local culture while enjoying the breathtaking natural surroundings.
As I settled into my new surroundings, I discovered the joys of a well-planned workation. It took a few days to adjust, but eventually, I found the perfect balance between work and leisure.
Many people have asked me for advice on making the most out of a workation, and it can be a truly magical experience when done correctly. By keeping everyone informed and cultivating good habits, workations have the potential to transform our perspective on work and leisure, creating a seamless and enjoyable experience. Let's explore the world of workations and discover how to make them a success.
1. Be clear and strict about your schedule
More often than not, workation is enjoyed with other people. You need to align your schedule with them and communicate that.
In my case, this meant either starting the workday a bit later to enjoy an early hike or ending the day earlier – allowing enjoying a fantastic sunset, food and fun with friends or going for a swim without it being too cold.
The other side could also be true – you enjoy your workation that much that you start working as compensation for feeling guilty (see point 7). Don't!
2. Update your colleagues
I've been clear in my work calendar that I won't be available for the time I spend on 'workation' to ensure no misunderstandings. A changed status message on teams, a fitting 'out of office' reply in your mail, or an adjusted e-mail signature helps too!
I can also imagine a workation to be location dependant – you'll probably need an internet connection for it to work well. Park your campervan when you have a meeting, be present and contribute as you would normally.
If you are a team lead or part of a development team, try to attend or create a daily 'check-in' to keep in touch with your team, for instance.
3. Foster an asynchronous culture beforehand
I'm lucky to be working with some fantastic diconium colleagues around the globe, and since we do software development mostly - it's familiar to work asynchronously.
But there are more people you work with, your manager, perhaps colleagues in HR or a persistent senior that still believes work only happens between 9 and 5.
Convince them 9 to 5 is no longer the only way to accomplish projects – things do get done even though it's just a JIRA card that has its status updated. There is a benefit to working in that way. Creating a daily or weekly check-in might help them, for instance, or communicate even more than you usually do.
Also, if you get feedback that your work quality or standards drop, and they are related to your workations, act on that feedback. The delivered work must remain unaffected by this.
4. Enjoy a different routine
As you might have read in my Apple vision blog – I'm a routine beast. I enjoy knowing what is expected daily, and it can be very productive if planned upfront. Ticking off tasks is something that should be on my LinkedIn!
But, on workation, it doesn't only work like that. You might be interrupted by a bad internet connection, get a flat tire while biking, or get stuck in a mountain lake for just one more swim.
This is fine. Going to bed at different times, too, writing a few e-mails later in the evening that you usually wouldn't. This is workation at its best!
5. Don't apologise
It can feel unfair towards others that work in the office, or you don't want to disturb them with e-mails late in the evening (schedule them!) – but that's no reason for you to apologise, you deserve a bit of away time, and it will give you new insights and create some distance from things. It refreshes your mind, gives great ideas, and improves mental health!
Refrain from overloading them with beautiful pictures of the environment, keep communicating and stay transparent. If you can't make things happen during your workation, don't promise them you will. (you should've already discussed your deadlines before your workation took place!)
6. Be prepared for different energy levels
Since you'll have a different routine and see many new things, it might take a lot of work to pick up work you would do from home (e.g. coding, deep thinking or meeting marathons), so be ready to do some different work.
There's always this stack of books lying around (Thanks Jamie for bringing tsundoko to my vocabulary), those town hall videos you still need to watch, or that new tool to try out. Workations are excellent for that!
I also tend to sleep a bit less, eat less healthily and do fewer sports – which also affects my health and motivation/energy for work.
7. If workation turns into a routine, better take time off!
I'm a person that needs routine to work efficiently. Workation doesn't work for me in that regard, so if I considered a longer workation (longer than a week), I would go for a reduction of hours or even a sabbatical instead.
Also, taking 'regular' workations might be a sign things need to change. If you feel the only solution to a tedious job is a workation, you might have the wrong position.
Talk to your HR department in both cases.
In conclusion, workations are a fascinating fusion of work and vacation that can help us rethink our work-life balance. Each workation is a chance to see the world from a fresh perspective, immerse in new environments, and experience the thrill of a shifting routine. However, the magic of a workation lies not just in the change of scenery but in our conscious efforts to balance our responsibilities, communicate with our teams, and adapt to different routines and energy levels.
So, as you contemplate the prospect of your next workation, remember this: it's not just about finding the perfect remote work spot or the most scenic view for your Zoom background. It's about stepping into a journey that defies the conventions of a traditional 9-to-5 routine. It allows you to explore, create, and achieve in a setting that feeds your soul and ignites your imagination.