A workation — sometimes alternatively spelled as "workcation" — is a working vacation that blends leisure and productive time. According to HR Technologist, workations have emerged as a popular engagement strategy for organizations in the U.S. and Europe as collaboration tools and advancements in workplace productivity technologies (such as laptops, project management software, and teleconferencing) have made it easier for employees to stay in the loop on work while enjoying time off in remote locales.
While the exact definition of a workation is a bit fuzzy, Michael Metcalf, a writer for Timetastic, says a workation generally entails working remotely while resting only at the usual times (after the workday or on weekends, assuming that you work a standard five-day week).
Metcalf draws a distinction between workationing with working remotely largely based on the amount of time spent on a workation versus working remotely. While a remote employee is completely offsite and works from wherever they're geographically located at all times, a workationing employee is merely working remotely while on a temporary trip away from the office.
Many of the same principles that apply to successfully working remotely also apply to taking a successful workation. However, there are also a few tips that are specific to workationing successfully. These include:
Workationing allows you to travel for longer periods of time than would be possible with traditional vacations. They also allow you to shake up your working environment and potentially gather inspiration from being in a new place. For people in creative or knowledge-based professions, this can be especially valuable. A change of pace can help you see problems in new ways and inspire new ways of thinking about the work that you're doing, benefiting your work and, ultimately, your career.
If you're in an industry with significant swings between busy and slow periods, workations can be a great way to maximize slow periods for travel without eating up all your vacation time. Rather than sitting in your office during ebbs at the office, you can take advantage of those slower times to get out of the office and recharge in anticipation of busy times when merely leaving the office — let alone going out of town — is a challenge.
Additionally, if you're unable to get traditional vacation time approved due to staffing issues, a workation is a potential solution that allows your employer to benefit from your work while you get to enjoy traveling.
Depending on how you see them, workations might be yet another sign of the eroding boundaries between work and personal time. While you're on a workation, the balance between "work" time and "me" time can be even more blurred than it already is (and most people would argue the distinction is already razor-thin thanks to the constant communication that technology enables), so you run the risk that you won't be able to fully enjoy being out of the office during your workation.
Some of workationing detractors argue that the emergence of this trend merely speaks to how overworked and stressed workers are. Rather than giving up precious vacation time to work during they day, they argue, workers should simply treat their vacation time as sacred and stop feeling guilty (or unable) to do so.
If you're workationing abroad, there may be tax and right-to-work implications. Technically, if you're working in a country where you aren't a citizen, you need a working visa — and those are significant harder to to obtain than tourist visas. Admittedly, this is hard for authorities to track, and probably isn't an issue for relatively short workations, but if you land in hot water for this reason, it could be a headache to resolve.
Finally, it's worth mentioning that workations aren't right for everyone. If you're more of a homebody, a workation isn't right for you. Similarly, if you require the structure of an office to be productive, a workation also isn't right for you. Finally, if your work is heavily dependent on in-person interactions with your coworkers or clients, a workation may not make sense.
The short answer is, it depends. The long answer is that a workation's costs are largely determined by four major factors:
If you go the DIY route, stay with family or friends for free, and don't significantly increase your spending just because you're somewhere other than home, a workation can be no more expensive than simply working at home. In fact, if you're workationing somewhere where the cost of living is lower than your home base, you may even find yourself saving money.
However, if you decide to workation somewhere where you'll be spending money on rent and other incidentals, the amount of money you can expect to pay during your workation can vary widely. If you choose to workation somewhere relatively inexpensive, such as Chiang Mai, organize everything yourself and stick to a fairly tight budget, Digital Nomad Soul estimates that you could likely workation for under $1,000 a month. At the highest end cost-wise, if you choose to workation through a professional program, Digital Nomad Soul reports that you should expect to pay $1,500-2,500 per month for the program, with food and other incidentals on top.