As the term might imply, a “workation” is a combination of work and vacation. Small business owners and self-described “digital nomads” have done this for years, working whatever hours they set while enjoying the sights and smells of the exotic locale they have moved to. Now some businesses are interested in a team workation, where a team retreats to a vacation spot and combines work and vacation together.
This may sound like a terrible idea at first, as Fast Company calls such retreats “a grown up version of the summer camp.” And a team workation can combine the worst aspects of traveling abroad and working if done improperly.
But when done properly, a workation can be a fantastic team-building exercise with clear positive effects on team morale and productivity. Here are some of the benefits of a team workation, and how to manage it to get the best results.
There is a comfort to routine, but a new working environment can create a spark for new and unique ideas. We value diversity in the workplace because different perspectives can come up with different solutions to the same problem, and moving to a new working environment is an extension of that logic.
Of course, this means that you must make sure that workers can set up in this new environment with minimum hassle. Consider contacting a workation program such as these listed by CNN. Make sure that your vacation spot is quiet, has plenty of working space, and has reliable internet. Read online reviews of workation spots, and see if there are nearby coffee shops or libraries that can serve as a backup working spot or a nice change of pace.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to keep your work and social circles separate. But employee morale and productivity rise when they work alongside people they genuinely like. And there is no team building exercise like seeing new, exotic places together and working alongside one another without close supervision in a new environment.
However, you will not improve employee morale and team cohesion if they are completely unwilling to go on a workation. Pick your employees who will go on such a trip wisely without the need for an employment lawyer. Ideally, they should have some history together and can be trusted with little supervision. Make workations into a privilege and not a replacement for actual vacations, and you will create a real incentive for team members to work together and better.
The key difference between going on a workation and being asked to work while on a regular vacation are the different expectations. Before going on a workation, it is critical to make clear to the team that a workation involves work as well as vacation. You should ideally plan ahead and dictate which hours your team will be working, and which hours your team will have time for themselves. Aim to get your work done in the morning so that you do not have the burden of work hanging over your vacation time. And once you have set a schedule which balances work and vacation, make sure to rigidly stick to it and avoid overworking.
A great time to have a workation is when you have a medium-sized, important project which will need a few days to a week to complete. Having a clear goal lets everyone rally around the task and know what they are supposed to do. You can also offer a further incentive that if they work hard and finish the project early, they will have more time to explore the streets of Paris or the mysteries of Thailand. A well run workation can both recharge your team and get work done at the same time, and shows that hours put into work matter less than what is put in over said hours. Find a destination that interests your team, and consider talking to them about a trip abroad.