Travel Trends: the ‘Work From Holiday’ Phenomenon

Travel and Tourism

So you’ve heard of a ‘staycation’, when you can take a holiday in a chosen blissful oasis here in the UK, but what about a ‘workation’? This clever combo of ‘work’ and ‘vacation’ (who knew?) is growing in popularity among remote professionals everywhere. Perhaps you’ve done one yourself, or want to find out what on earth it entails? Well Faith, our Insight and Strategy Executive, is here to tell you more.

A new trend is emerging, and of course we had to jump on the opportunity to have a natter about it. Having left her older brother ‘Work From Home’ inside where he belongs, ‘Work from Holiday’ – or ‘workation’ – has come bursting into the summer sunshine to raise her freckled face. The term has been shooting round the offices and Slack messages of the UK and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

What sparked my interest is that ‘work’ and ‘holiday’ are often antithetical words. ‘Workation’ is practically an oxymoron. As Brits, our preciously selected days off are usually spent with ice cold beverages in hand, getting slightly burnt on a beach somewhere in the Mediterranean (or more recently, beaches on our own soil). Work doesn’t enter our vocabulary. Why is it then that ‘work from holiday’ is becoming more common? What does this say about our current state of mind, and how is it linked to its much discussed pal, WFH?

Why Has ‘Work From Holiday’ Taken Off?

This trend makes sense when we consider what COVID-19 did to our working lives. WFH was mandated by the government at the start of the pandemic for those who were able to do so, and an unprecedented 46.6% of the UK population transitioned to remote working in April 2020. This shift has enabled more people to work remotely for longer periods of time, even indefinitely. On top of this, summer 2021 has seen the cautious re-emergence of overseas travel. This has encouraged people to look further afield than their kitchen table, or desk in the spare room, to warmer, more tropical climes.

‘Workation’ in the Press

Pros

Sure enough, a year ago in September 2020 (yes I know, I still can’t believe it’s 2021 either), The Guardian published an article named ‘The Rise of the Half Tourist’ that picked up on the first whiffs of this trend. Various countries such as Anguilla, Croatia and Georgia launched Visa schemes allowing travellers to work from their country remotely for extended periods. Fast forward to this year, and ‘workation’ is hot off the press, and a sought-after talking point among journalists. Holidu recently published an article with a list of the best locations to go for your workation; they compiled an extensive index by analysing factors that are ‘important to every wanderlust remote worker’, from average number of sunshine hours to the average price of an after work beverage.

Other sites such as fairygodboss list tips on how to have the most productive workation by carefully mixing business and pleasure. Whole websites have been developed – like the aptly named workfromholiday.com – that claim to enable a ‘new work life balance’, particularly if you’re ‘sick and tired’ of working from home. They handpick accommodation based on key factors such as WiFi accessibility and co-working spaces.

We have a feeling that she’s not working particularly hard in this photo…

Cons

On the flipside, the law firm Lewis Silkin has released an article stressing the importance of outlining a clear-cut policy if you have employees working from holiday. They mention the serious implications of offshore working, such as immigration, work visas and mandatory employment protections, stressing that a foolproof system needs to be in place.

Other articles have turned a critical lens towards this new trend, with Forbes noting how the work from holiday trend is skewed towards those with a higher income, specifically white collar workers. Interestingly, almost a year after their first one, The Guardian’s most recent article claims ‘you might want to consider your work-life balance, or bank-balance, before you go’.

So… much to think about. Work from holiday is clearly growing in momentum, and receiving a backlash from people who peek into its further implications and what it means for society as a whole. Luckily enough, we have more than just musings – I interviewed some of our very own Passionistas to find out what they made of their own work from holiday experience.

Real Work From Holiday Experiences

Dave, Team PPC

Location: Breuilpont, France

Pros: I loved it! I felt very relaxed and happy to be in a warmer climate, and our holiday was extended because I was able to work there. I was working in a similar time zone so I could fit in with the same working rhythm as the rest of the company. Before and after work I had no travelling, so I could enjoy the surroundings, and have a BBQ and a few beers like you normally would on holiday.

Cons: You’re not in the office and around your colleagues, so comms are not always as instant as they normally would be. When you work and the weather is amazing and you have a swimming pool close by, it can be a little distracting from time to time.

Would you do it again? Yes, without hesitation. The pros by far outweigh the cons

Robyn, Team SEO

Location: Durban, South Africa

Pros: It meant I could have an extended holiday staying with my family over there, because I was working some of the days. It was great to spend more time with them.

Cons: I didn’t enjoy it too much as it’s very hard to concentrate. I was just watching all my family in the pool and relaxing and got jealous!

Would you do it again? Yes, I actually would. I would do it slightly differently though. I think you can make it work under the right circumstances.

Cecilia (‘Chily’), Management Team

Location: Galicia, North Spain

Pros: After COVID, it’s so nice to get a change of scenery. I got to extend my holiday for 4 weeks, and enjoy the weekends as well as time not working. I could still go to the beach and out for nice dinners in the evening.

Cons: It was hard to concentrate, you have a bit of a mental block on holiday that is hard to get past. And I also had my kids so I needed to have someone to look after them.

Would you do it again? Yes! I will continue to do it for as long as I can.

What Can We Conclude?

A healthy mixed bag of responses from our interviewees. The overriding benefit heralded by all was being able to spend more time in their chosen destination. A workation meant they could simply have more time away, which wouldn’t have been possible without also working. It enabled those visiting families to spend more time with them (despite working in the day) and others to have longer to enjoy the country they were visiting.

Other positive feedback came from having more flexibility, enjoying the evenings, and of course the weather. The biggest ‘con’ seemed to be concentration, and finding it hard to focus in their surroundings. Others were: jealousy of non-workers, childcare, WiFi and comms and inability to fully ‘switch off’. What’s most interesting though, is that each person said they would do it again, even if they didn’t actually enjoy it. I found this an interesting insight into our modern attitude to work, or the more recently coined ‘hustle culture’. There has to be a pay-off for taking time off. We might not really enjoy it, but hey, that’s the grind, right?

Perhaps then, as we shift into this next chapter of (post?) pandemic life, workations will become as hotly debated as #WFH has been in the last 18 months. Are we to assume that, as long as working from home is a thing, working from holiday will be too? In fact, this trend might still be growing, and actually become a bigger part of our culture in the future.

What will this mean for the landscape of our future holidays? Are we to be chained to our laptop screens forever more, or will we be able to find a healthy balance? There’s no doubt that the option to work from home has changed our working lives forever – perhaps workations just might too.

Our Insight & Strategy team love to delve into the latest digital trends and topics. If we’ve whetted your appetite, check out more top-notch content on our blog – or get in touch directly and have a chat with the team.