For years, Erin was living on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, working as an architect and swimming in the Caribbean every day. You’d think she was “living the dream,” but in all honesty, she was stressed out and wanted a getaway for her own mental health. Unfortunately, the demands of her job meant that she couldn’t simply pack up and leave for a few weeks. What she needed was a workcation.

Workcations—that mashed-up term that describes a situation that isn’t quite a vacation and isn’t quite working as normal—is a growing trend for American workplaces that have come to rely on the productivity of their teams while also honoring the need for a healthy work-life balance for employees. 

Between a global pandemic and increased demands on workplace performance (not to mention all the other regular life events that can impact health and wellness), people are struggling. A new, more flexible option for alleviating the pressure is the result. 

What’s a Workcation?

When your employer and team are relying on you to complete your tasks to move forward with contracts, deadlines, and meeting customer demands, you can’t exactly take a week off for vacation. Many industries are seasonally focused, meaning there are some times of the year when a vacation isn’t even allowed.

And yet, there are also times when employees simply need to benefit from different perspectives. Part of going on vacation is simply stepping away from household chores, personal worries, and the same four walls of the workplace. 

A workcation refers to a time when an employee is allowed to work remotely outside of the office without dipping into their paid time off. They’ll still have the same expectation of productivity, but they get the benefit of new surroundings and a refreshed perspective.

Workers check and answer emails, take calls, sit in on video conferences, and respond to requests as quickly as they would as if they were in the office. But they may do all of those things from a lounge at a pool. Employees on workcations will pay for their lodging and travel, but the time doesn’t count against their annual vacation allowance.

The Origins of a New Workplace Trend

Thirty years ago, workers weren’t sent emails while having dinner with their families. But five years ago, late-night messages from the boss weren’t that uncommon. 

In 2015, the Wall Street Journal wrote an article about successful executives and entrepreneurs who logged in for full workdays from vacation locations. It was the solution to avoiding burnout for workers who are simply unable to take full advantage of their paid time off. While not all offices offer a flexible work policy, times are changing.

Reasons to Take a Workcation

Of course, there is a measurable benefit from taking an actual vacation with out-of-office messages for emails and voicemails. But if that’s simply not a possibility, workcations allow you to:

  • Avoid burnout 
  • Extend work trips to enjoy a new area 
  • Save up vacation time for a big life event, such as a wedding or family get-together
  • Enjoy an organized retreat on a specific topic of personal interest
  • Spend time exploring a different town when you would be commuting
  • Alleviate feelings of guilt from being away when work needs to be completed
  • Handle concerns from clients and managers that cannot wait
  • Pick up where you left off when you return

A Workcation Game Plan

If you think a workcation is a solution to your current work-life situation, you’ll have to create a plan before buying that ticket to a tropical island. 

Think Out Your Workcation Plans

What kind of getaway do you imagine? Be realistic about where you’d like to go while also working. Hotels and organized retreats at resorts are excellent options since they allow for quiet time when you can focus on your work tasks while also relaxing. 

Check Connectivity Where You’re Headed

Once you have picked your destination, you’ll need to double-check that there is internet connectivity. Bad internet service can put a damper on your plans and possibly force you to come back early.

Talk to Your Employer About Expectations

Ask to schedule a 15-minute meeting with whoever approves your paid time off to propose the idea. Consider a follow-up request if they deny your request at first.

Discuss the Situation With Both Your Family and Work Team

Let your family or spouse know when you’re free to participate in fun activities, and let your employees and peers know you’ll be available as normal. 

In order to fully enjoy your workcation, keep your boundaries healthy on both sides. Then, you’ll be like Erin, who was refreshed after a week of museums and after-hours Broadway shows in New York City. She was happy to return to her supportive workplace, refreshed and relaxed from her plugged-in time away.