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Workation - how to relocate your workplace with the New Work concept

30/08/2022 2022/08

The new opportunities that New Work brings can already be seen in everyday working life. 

Monday 9 a.m., everyone is dialing into the weekly kick-off meeting to talk about the week ahead. Somehow, Claudia's background looks different today than it normally does. Either it's a great animated virtual background or the palm trees in the background are real. "Claudia where are you? Do you have palm trees in your garden lately?" 

Thanks to the possibilities offered by New Work, we now also see beach panoramas or mountain idylls paired with statements about current work topics and their progress on an open laptop on LinkedIn more frequently. What used to apply only to bloggers and Instagrammers is now finding its way into the modern working world - working where others go on vacation. The workation model, which is becoming increasingly popular despite many employers, provides a charming solution for some employees and promotes the employer brand in the process. 

We asked our colleagues what the New Work concept "Workation" has looked like for them this year. Why they wanted to combine their work with vacation in the first place, what might have been challenging and where they want to work from next. 

What is Workation and for whom is this New Work method suitable?

First, however, let's take a general look at "workation" as the latest achievement of the new world of work. After trends such as the open-plan office, creative workspaces or fundamentally flexible office designs, which have changed the way we work, a 360° change with regard to the place of work has become established in many companies with the home office solution. For many employees it is now no longer sufficient to offer 1 day home office per week or month, but a completely free choice of work location. This freedom of choice is also referred to as trusted work location, similar to trusted working hours, which actually no one perceives as a benefit anymore, because it is standard in commercial professions in the free economy. It is a fundamental methodology of New Work and thus of the digitization of the working world.

In addition to the home office, a new standard is now emerging in the form of temporary "work from anywhere" or, in a combination of work and vacation, "workation. So it's not about just any place, but one where you would also spend a nice vacation. 
This is not only suitable for traveling alone, but also for an extended couple time, if this is possible for both of them. Even entire families can embark on such an adventure, as there are already initial providers with childcare options for undisturbed working time, or, as in the case of our colleague, the in-laws can take over the childcare right away. Employers themselves can also organize a "workation" for individual employees or entire teams, so that New Work can be lived directly.
"'Work From Here' celebrates a new global culture that allows workers to balance work and travel, and is based on the mindset of people who now work from anywhere. When we're free to travel again, we want to inspire workers to think differently about their workplace to create happier, more productive experiences that benefit not only employees, but employers as well." - Nisreene Atassi, Senior Director, Communications, at Expedia

Employers who do this strengthen identification with their company, retain employees through emotional experiences, and at the same time promote creativity and thus loyalty to the employer. Especially in occupational fields that thrive on new ideas and creative approaches, this New Work method and the resulting form of variety can be a real benefit. At the same time, this ensures balance and a sense of well-being. 
The same applies with regard to teams, which thereby work together at a distance, especially after work, in a carefree atmosphere, but also spend their free time together. This promotes cohesion, a unique identity and creates a deeper understanding of the team members. For everyone involved, this can be a real confidence booster. We tested this out as well and will report on it later. 

What are the advantages of the New Work method Workation?  

We have already described the additional creativity booster and the development of new ideas. As an employer, it shows they are more sensitive and aware of their employees' needs. Similar to trust-based working time, the focus here is on the employee and the work result. In surveys conducted during the Corona pandemic, one in five employees stated that his or her work could also be done completely remotely. In addition, Generation Z in particular will be the employees who will demand New Work. For them, the obligation to work from an office is an absolute exclusion criterion for employers, and offering a workstation can be a good way to stand out from the competition on the hotly contested applicant market and enhance your attractiveness as an employer.

Experts and representatives of large companies still argue about the increase in productivity or efficiency of mobile work. Therefore, we do not want to go further into these points regarding the New Work method. 

Because there is one aspect that we consider more important and much more significant for the future of work. The already mentioned positive effects on our health and well-being. Not only do we give our brains a mental health boost by breaking out of well-known routines - "just get out of the rut" without taking a vacation from work - but above all because we counter the fairy tale of work-life balance with a more credible approach. 

In the future, it will be much more about how well we can combine and integrate all our areas of life. New Work supports this line of thinking. So many products and services are about individualization, but at work, the individual's individuality has too often been pushed to its limits. Look around your team, how many are early risers, who have already opened the laptop and written the first mails before dawn, just to enjoy the afternoon all to themselves. And how many colleagues, on the other hand, start the day comfortably because they only really blossom in the evening hours? 

The same applies to the desire for relaxation and stress reduction. For one person, this means active relaxation while hiking, and for another, a piece of cake with coffee on the terrace or the couch. With Workation, your colleagues can continue their own rhythm of work as well as take advantage of the balancing, relaxing part. With the help of this New Work concept, employers create the right integration of work and relaxation, promote a positive mood and reduce sick leave, which is becoming more and more frequent due to stress and psychological overload.

A woman in front of a sunny backdrop looking out to sea and working
New Work promotes creativity and shows employers the needs of their employees.
New Work promotes creativity and shows employers the needs of their employees.

Experiences on the new working model... 

In the case of our colleagues this year, the famous change of scenery that New Work makes possible and which we have already mentioned was literally a change of location with a sea view, mountain air or sand underfoot. The destinations were quite different, so it went to Sweden in a cottage in the middle of the forest, to Italy with the camper, to the north of the Netherlands on a small island called Ameland or to Hungary in a thermal resort called Heviz. One of our teams met in the tranquil town of Coesfeld directly at a colleague's home. For all of them there were very different drivers and experiences, here is an excerpt from the answers:

What attracted you to a workation? 

"The sense of freedom, the opportunity to travel to so many beautiful places even if you don't have a vacation. The balance for the workday and thus the full energy for work topics and above all the creativity, stimulated by the change of scenery - I would not have thought it possible that after "closing the laptop" a vacation feeling can arise immediately. Even if it's only a few hours until the next morning when you open the laptop again" - Aileen 

"I am attracted to the possibility of merging work and vacation.
While my family is on vacation and sleeping in, I'm already sitting at my laptop working. By breakfast, I already have half the workday behind me, and in the afternoon I can take them to the beach to build a sandcastle or collect shells. I can accompany my family on vacation, enjoy the vacation without having a vacation myself. P.S. Who doesn't like working at a vacation spot." - Claudia  

"The compatibility of family and work, as well as to leave the everyday stress behind and still see something different. Having much more time for the family in the process. It relaxes you in spite of work. Especially when there are special balancing acts to be done between one's own and one's partner's job. For example, my husband has to go abroad for a longer period of time and Workation is a great way to do that." - Vicky

And our team?
We work very closely together, but mostly in virtual space and only for a few hours at a time. And even though the personal level is very important to us, working in one place is even more different. This time we even met at the home of one of us and were allowed into her very private area. We were integrated into the family life. That had a completely different quality to our being together, our exchange and our way of working. It brings us even closer together and improves our understanding of each other in different situations. - Nadia

We were also interested in what went really well with the New Work method?

"The internet connection, thanks to mobile router. The work organization - due to the beautiful environment, you were spurred to complete your tasks one after the other, so that you could "enjoy" your end of the day as quickly as possible. No tasks were left undone. Even with two of us, we managed well in a small space for 3 weeks :-)" Aileen

"Outstanding was the harmony & living together, the consideration my family gave me was impressive. 
The understanding of the children that the cool aunt is now in an online meeting, and does not come with me to the beach, was present and never became a reproach. In return, I was able to enjoy and appreciate the free time, much more intensely." - Claudia

"The care of my child by my parents-in-law during the work phase. This gave me the opportunity to concentrate fully on my work. I was able to shift down a gear myself. Partly, I was able to work 1 to 2 hours less a day to generate even more recovery factor." - Vicky

What went great in the team?

"It takes a lot of bonding and trust to invite the work colleagues to your home for several overnights. But the effect is also that these very same feelings are amplified as a result. 
I found the intense togetherness here in my home and environment more personal than if we had met on neutral ground. This Workation could also be called Family-Workation, because the colleagues were completely integrated into family life. My son also looked forward to playing with them every day in the afternoon." - Milana

When answering the questions, we noticed the enthusiasm of the colleagues. At the same time, there were also a few concerns, not only about the Internet connection. Similar to many New Work issues, this is a model that is only suitable for certain professional groups. Freelancers and office workers who already enjoy location-independent working will also face few challenges. The self-discipline that has been strived for so far will be equally or even thereby a little more challenged in a place that invites exploration and relaxation. 

At the same time, as with every concept of New Work, trust on the part of the manager is a core requirement. This is supported by framework conditions on which both parties agree. Open communication between team members and managers about reservations and concerns is essential. For example, it is possible to discuss directly in advance that within the workation the working time will be reduced for this period and will be at a fixed time, for example to ensure availability in case of time shifts in other countries. Even with reduced working hours, the colleague's working capacity is not completely absent, as is the case with vacation. This New Work concept thus has an enormous advantage.

So what were our colleagues' concerns?

"In Sweden, we were in a house with two families who were friends - there were initial concerns about finding a quiet corner for me, but the worries were unfounded as there was a quiet study. In Italy, there were two of us in the camper working. I was worried that we would interfere with each other or have too many overlapping deadlines." - Aileen

"I was very worried about having a stable internet connection. 
Although I had clarified this beforehand, but, what if the data volume is used up, or the WLAN is gone in the middle of the meeting. I was also worried about whether I would have the self-discipline to work.
Can I work while two kids are in a vacation mood, wanting to play and have fun?" - Claudia

Were there also concerns with the team workation?

Yes concerns there definitely were. Whether everything would work out spatially. From sleeping space to being able to retreat for video calls. And whether it is okay for the rest of the family to have "strangers" here around the clock for a few days. - Milana 

Being big fans of learning curves and reflection, we were of course interested in what may be different next time and if another Workation is planned, where it should go. "I would actually take a vacation day or two to be able to explore more of the areas. Next up is going to France to the Côte d'Azur in a camper."- Aileen

"In the run up to the trip I will worry less about what can go wrong, but rather enjoy that I can enjoy Workation in Portugal with summer, sun & beach." - Claudia

"Nothing really, except being away longer, because the driving distance and the time are unfortunately not in proportion ;-) But it is also a question of money ;-). Next, as already mentioned, it should be going to China for 3 months." - Vicky

And the team?

"I don't think we would change anything, maybe organize some real team action besides eating together, but otherwise everything was great. Yes, next time we could maybe meet somewhere where it is a workation for all team members and everyone gets out of the familiar environment. But there is no destination for that yet." - Nadia

Is Workation proving its worth as a New Work concept?

For ARTS, the model has already proven its worth and has provided variety, balance and strengthened cohesion, especially among our female colleagues this year. So our conclusion is clearly a recommendation, because we don't yet have much to counter the increasing stress in the new "New Work" world of work. But Workation is a good first step towards doing so. If you are interested in how we organize Workation and integrate it into our teams, please write to us.

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