What is a workation – and could it be good for your tech team?


For co-workers in a workation
Photo by Helena Lopes

Lately, you've been noticing your team's energy is low. Creativity's lagging and productivity could use a boost, too. All signs point to the fact that the whole team needs a pick-me-up. Where do you go from here?


If your team needs a change of pace or at least a change of scenery, it might just be time for a workation. The term “workation” is not simply a buzzword used by hip startup entrepreneurs and HR professionals in tech recruitment to lure in new employees. A recent study by Simon Kucher showed that packing up the laptop and going on a workstation is rapidly gaining popularity, with nearly 80% of respondents preferring to add a couple of weeks of workation to their holidays. Another study revealed that 94% of the surveyed Americans plan to workation again in 2022 and beyond.


So could your organization benefit from a little business and leisure – and is this a good idea for a team of IT professionals? Let's dive in.


What is a workation?


An IT professional working in the camper
Photo by Standsome Worklifestyle

Some call it a “workation”, others prefer ”worcation”, “workcation”, “bleisure”, or even “workoliday and “woliday” in the UK. No matter the name, a workation is exactly what it sounds like – work combined with vacation.


Taking a workation allows working remotely while integrating elements of leisure, rest, or sightseeing that let your teammates unwind, relax, and be more productive. In other words, workation is taking a break from your traditional workspace and structure, but not from the work itself.


While in theory, everyone could take a workation, it's not exactly the case in real life. Some jobs are just not compatible with remote work, and this includes industries like hospitality, retail, construction, and medicine among others.


But there's definitely a green light to have a workation for those usually working in the office – think tech companies, startups, advertising agencies, teams working in the field of IT, and other creative professions. The trend to vacay with fellow teammates has become so popular that workation deals and packages are now on the rise to meet the growing demand.


So if you can work (and rest) from anywhere in the world – should you?


The benefits of a workation


A workation is not just a nice perk to post on job listings if you're an IT recruitment agency searching for the best IT professionals. Researchers and organizations who have experienced workations first-hand name numerous benefits, including:


  • A workation boosts creativity. Having a routine is nice and can provide structure for your daily tasks. But if the team is used to the same traditional arrangement every day, there's not much room for new perspectives. Kimberly Elsbach, a professor at the University of California, explains that “creativity and innovation happen when people change their environment, and especially when they expose themselves to a nature-like environment. So staying inside, in the same location, is really detrimental to creative thinking.”

  • Increase in employee productivity. Since a change of the surrounding environment can bring a surge of creativity, this means projects can be finished in less time. A workation also gives your team the opportunity to shift gears, which means they'll be more productive once you return to the office.

  • It's great for team building. Having fun and making memories together with colleagues strengthens team morale and builds a stronger bond. As teammates get more acquainted with each other, it helps them work better together on future projects.

  • A workation can prevent job burnout. Employee burnout happens when workplace stress or excessive work hours causes physical or mental exhaustion. Having fun together builds a more positive work environment, and a workation can be something for the team to look forward to.


Of course, there are two sides to every coin, and workations come with some challenges, too. It can be costly to plan a workation, especially if your organization is large and you're planning on bringing everyone abroad to an exotic location. Planning a workation also requires dedication and quite a bit of planning. But as a global IT recruitment agency, we've seen so many organizations proving that workations can be done right. Here's what you need to know to plan a workation to remember.


How to make the most of your workation


3 colleagues at the table working while on workation
Photo by Brooke Cagle

A great team adventure begins with picking the right location. If possible, let your people speak – do a survey of where the team would prefer to go. Pick a destination that's inspiring and allows options for sightseeing, rest, and exploring after the work portion is over. Bear in mind that your location should also have a stable connection to the Internet and should be comfortable enough to accommodate the whole team.


Set a clear goal for your workation. What is the aim of going on your workation? Do you want to brainstorm ideas for an upcoming project – or work on a specific task that requires refocusing? Make sure to communicate the workation agenda and targets so that everyone is on the same page.


Choose the right format. Workations can look very different for different teams, and they can vary in length and activities, too. It's important to find something that resonates with your team. For example, here at Mate HR, we'll be having our very first workation in Lisbon, Portugal, just in time for Web Summit 2022. “This year, we've planned a trip to the biggest tech event in the world. We will arrive two days before the opening and fly out two days after Web Summit ends,” explains Māris Tepers, CEO and founder of MateHR. “That way, we'll have time for work and a mini vacation. Having a strong team is one of our core values. It's very important that the work is interesting, but it's also essential that we all get a chance to relax and have fun together. We've spoken about this often – now it's time to put that into practice.”


Plan time carefully. Have a clear schedule for the working portion of your workation. And don't forget about having fun and planning time for switching off. After all, that's the goal of the whole trip – to work and rest.


While on the workation, allow time for personal space. Not everyone's an extrovert, and even the most social butterflies need time to unwind.


Final takeaway


There are some workplace perks that are often met with an eyeroll from the potential employees and are best left avoided. Working in IT recruitment, we've seen this first hand.


But this is not the case with workations. For curious teams who want to relax and be creative, a workation can prove to be a significant help in promoting engagement, as well as employees’ mental and physical health.


Want to learn more ideas on how to improve hiring processes, employee wellbeing, talent management, and more? Stay tuned for our tech recruitment agency tips, or leave a comment below on themes you'd like to explore more.