What Are Workcations and Why Do They Matter?

Fab Giovanetti

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As Summer is rolling, this year on LinkedIn we have seen the rising trend of 'Workcations'.

The term stands for working remotely while on holiday and is becoming more popular as the workplace tries to catch up with the need for flexibility. 74% of remote workers said they’d consider it, per a Harris Poll. It's been shown to be linked to a boost of morale and performance, yet burnout is just around the corner.

During the Pandemic, workers have been underusing vacation days, and many have been working longer hours amid the pandemic. There is a need for clean-cut and renewed boundaries, and albeit positive, a change of scenery should not replace some conscious time off.

You could argue the benefits to a workcation: the work away from home can help you find the extra discipline in working and can help your health. It's also a great way to create distance from the stresses of workplace.

However, you'll need to be clear on the boundaries you're setting in between team communication and availability, as well as crisis management.

"The kind of work that more and more people do doesn’t fit neatly into time and place," says Michael Leiter, a professor of psychology at Acadia University. "It’s not like you stop thinking about it when the clock hits 5pm."

How to take your work with you

If you are finding yourself tied with work during your time away, you need to properly split your time for work and enjoy the rest of the day without the distraction of your inbox and Slack messages.

At least give 3 to 4 hours of your day. Make it a specific time of the day in a week so that people know when to contact you for work. Make sure you have set a clear autoresponder that gives clear instruction during the time you won't be on your laptop or device.

Workplace expert Amy Cooper Hakim suggests focusing on what you can take off your plate completely, restructure your focus and create a “must-do, can-wait” list. By being able to better prioritise, you can say no more effectively and create a timeline of what you need to get done before you are back from your holiday.

Especially when changing scenery, you'll be removing some of the routines and systems that may help you setting the end of a workday, meaning that you may end up working more than you'd do at home!

You'll work more days than normal and may not be able to take a “real break” - as you would at home, says the Royal College of General Practitioners' annual Burnout Study.

“There is a risk of burnout when you work more than your own normal schedule as well as over a sustained period"

Make sure you set a clear end-of-day ritual to mark when your 'work day' is ending, and, if possible, create a temporary office away from the rest of your space, so that you can physically walk away when you are done.

How companies can encourage time off

Better strategies to reclaim time off include implementing company-wide days off and encouraging workers to take time off for mental health even if they don't have trips planned, Sabina Nawaz, a CEO coach and consultant, writes in the Harvard Business Review.

GitLab executives visibly take time off and will share in public channels. Disconnecting from work has to be celebrated at the highest level to set the tone for everyone else in the organization to recognize that recharging is supported and encouraged."

says Darren Murph, head of remote work at GitLab, the world's largest all-remote company. Breaks are essential to restore creativity, recover your energy and reclaim your time in a whole new way.

Look at how you can create a culture that is less prone to burnout, like taking your own time off, not checking in while you’re away, and avoiding late-night emails to your team. 

In a culture that encourages us to 'always be on', it's pivotal to encourage more conversations around cherishing the time away from work as the time for renewal and restoration.

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