Before you start reading, think about the word Work-ation and what does it mean to you? Ask yourself if you were connected with office on your last holiday. Lastly, ask yourself what does vacation mean to you.
The frequency of travel has increased exponentially for most of us. Simultaneously, responsibilities at work have increased, our roles are larger and our travel wish list keeps getting longer. How then do you explore places while balancing a job and limited annual leave?
There are stories of individuals and couples who left their jobs, sold their belongings and decided to travel. Those whose stories we hear of, now have the work of producing more content on their vacation, one of the most common examples of those who work while vacationing. It is a specialisation called “travel blogging”, which enables you to be on the move and earning an income at the same time.
So what if we have regular day jobs? Does that restrict us from taking the quintessential workation? With technology being an integral part of our lives, we don’t need an international sim card to stay connected. Among the first things we do, when we check in, is login to the hotel wi-fi, ensuring we are wired to our world and colleagues. We may also upload a picture on social media to feel elated with the likes and comments. Moreover, there’s no problem of access – our data is on the cloud and our smartphones make the laptop unnecessary.
Most people use technology as an enabler to work remotely; allowing them to work from a different destination as often as they like. It also depends on your work profile. I have to travel often as part of my work since my firm manufactures sustainable travelwear. Also, my husband and I live in different countries. Both these realities ensure that I take lots of “workacations”. For me, a visit to the malls is a study. Observing the shop windows, analysing strategy behind promotions, studying complimentary brands, shopping abroad and observing what is keeping shoppers most engaged is research, not “retail therapy”
Make up artists, choreographers, wedding planners, research professionals, Regional sales managers and many more professionals are constantly taking workations.. And then there is the new age online influencer. Shibani Gharat, Journalist and marathon runner, is always working when travelling. As is Reeti Sahai, entrepreneur and marathon runner, takes her sport wherever she travels. My sister Diipti, who runs Edible Gardens, sources seeds and studies plants on her travels. She makes it a point to visit nurseries and research local saplings.
More than one’s job, it is the approach that we have towards our work. One has to be accountable. One’s goals for the “workation” have to be clear-cut. A practice of filing a report of the trip for one’s boss or oneself helps in honestly assessing how much work actually happened. .
Unless your role requires you to be physically present eg: a personal trainer, a shop assistant, a chef. Having said that, if we are able to convince ourselves and our clients/employers that the break will enhance our skills and we will come back more knowledgeable, in most cases, you will get the opportunity. Some of my batch mates in the Mountaineering Course (Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering) did exactly that and got a month long “workation”!.
It is also important to have clarity of thought with respect to the trip. How much of the trip is for work and how much is a vacation? Eg: When I visited Azerbaijan with my husband, we knew it was a work trip, which we chose to spend together and turn into a holiday. We missed visiting the much talked about carpet museum because it shut by the time we completed our office duties. We chose to go for a run on one of the longest promenades instead and enjoyed it.
If your work involves some thinking, emailing and presentation-making, you can totally take a workation. My idea of a vacation is different. Running a hybrid, online and offline business, I am connected to work all the time. Therefore, I like to take breaks where I am completely disconnected. Where I consciously set an out of office email and better still, visit a place so remote, there is no internet!
These few days of spending time with myself, reading, slowing down, immersing myself in that space, the local culture, helps me centre myself, get objective perspective. The distance helps me realise things I normally don’t, when I am too close to the canvas.
With so much stimuli coming at us all the time, I would urge everyone to disconnect once in a while. A workation has its advantages, it definitely gives us the opportunity to experience the best of both worlds but a real vacation has its own charm. A good balance between the two ensures we enjoy work and vacations!
Feature Image by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash