Working from home has blurred the lines between office productivity, at-home convenience and 9-5 scheduling. As a result, working vacations “workcations” have come into vogue, but they aren’t all created equally. Here’s where to go for productivity and relaxation on your next workcation.
The Well-Designed Workcation
The workcation is a trick many have used for years to create a better work-life balance, or, in my case, skirt company vacation policies. Given that in-person attendance is either not required at all or is very limited, instead of working from home many are working from the beach.
But a workcation is decidedly not a vacation and shouldn’t be treated as such. There are rules. For single professionals, the guidelines are pretty simple: work during work hours, play during play hours. But for those who may be traveling with a family, it’s important to compartmentalize further. Significant others and children need a schedule that separates family time from company time to reduce distractions without causing family strife.
The key components to a workcation are:
- Work-from-home occupation
- Access to business-ready functionality
- Relaxing destination
Picking a Location
Selecting the right location for your workcation is harder than it might look on the surface. For example, let’s say you had Thailand in mind – an excellent choice presuming you meet entry standards – Koh Lanta has the views that Instagram was made for, but Chiang Mai is where the best wifi is. Chiang Mai, Thailand is in the northwest of the country surrounded by rainforest but home to a growing digital nomad culture. Koh Lanta, however, is a picturesque island but not known for access to business centers and internet speed.
Picking a location can be tough but remember that it should be equal parts relaxation and work. There should be a balance of ability to focus and the benefits of being in a new location with a preferable advantage.
For example, I am writing this very post from the bedroom of a condo in Florida. I can enjoy the blue skies, green grass, and lunches outside. Ultimately, I have to focus on work during the day and make sure I don’t become too tempted by the pool outside. It’s still nicer than the gray skies at home and fresh fish dinners await me in the evening, but I have to be able to concentrate on work. I can do that inside but not outside. Perhaps you are different.
I have a printer, a scanner, fast internet, good cell coverage, and affordable cost of living that allows me to extend my stay as needed. Had I chosen, for example, to take a workcation in the Maldives, I would outspend my resources and be more tempted to play than work. Orlando might also be a poor choice for similar reasons.
The key is to pick a location from which you, personally, can work when needed but also a place where you want to play when work has finished. It should have the resources to make work more tolerable but capable while providing benefits for yourself and family when you’re not working. Finances should also be considered. The higher the cost, the less likely you might be to take a conference call when needed.
The first part of workcation is, unfortunately, work. Being productive is different when outside of the office or home. My mother fails to understand the principle. I am able to take workcations in a nearly unlimited capacity because I am still working. When she goes on vacation (once or twice annually) she leaves work at home. But because I work while I am away, I am able to spend much more time away from home than just once or twice a year.
Here are some tips to stay productive while you are on a workcation:
- Set a schedule – Just like at home, you’ll need a set schedule that doesn’t involve sleeping half the day away. Start work when you would at home, have a cup of coffee if that’s your routine and end the day when you normally would.
- Plan ahead – If you choose to spend some afternoons at the beach or hiking in the mountains, slot in conference calls and work that can’t be completed by phone for times when you will be in front of your computer.
- Set and Enforce Boundaries – It’s easy to get distracted by family and friends while on a workcation, so politely set boundaries as to when and where you’re working. Others should know when it’s ok to interrupt and when it’s not.
- Punctuation to the Day – Start the day promptly but also end the day promptly. Add punctuation to close of work by putting your computer away, leaving your dedicated workspace and re-engaging with family.
Workcations are only successful when workers maintain productivity.
This is the heyday for the remote worker. Technology has made working outside of the home or office possible for more than a decade, but COVID-19 has made it acceptable in the workplace. Blurring the lines between working and vacation can seem like ruining the relief vacations bring. However, greater frequency and a shift from the normal and expected can enhance work and make life more enjoyable.
What do you think? How do you stay productive while on a workcation? Do you have tips I missed? Share them in the comments.