Workcations: what do they mean for HR?
Historically, we’ve been advised to keep work and play separate, but a new employee trend is completely revolutionising this mindset.
People across the country are packing their bags and travelling to new temporary locations for months at a time, all while continuing with their jobs remotely – this is now known as a ‘workcation’.
In fact, a global study found that in 2022, 65% of their 5,500 respondents plan to extend a leisure trip into a work one and vice versa.
But what does this mean for HR, and how can operations be adapted to meet this new demand?
What exactly is a workcation
In essence, a workcation is when employees go somewhere other than their registered home address/office but continue to work remotely from that new location.
The different types of workcation
The time employees take for a workcation and the location they travel to can vary quite significantly.
You can typically break workcations down into these three categories:
Short-term workcations are typically a few days, and while the employee travels, it's usually close to home – perhaps visiting friends or family.
Medium-term workcations can last a few weeks and are normally further afield but still in the same country; say you lived in London, for a medium-term workcation, you'd perhaps travel to the coast for a few weeks.
Long-term workcations are where an employee completely relocates for a few months, often to a different country. Employees could choose a long-term workcation to visit somewhere new and make the most out of remote working, or perhaps they have loved ones in another country that they want to visit for an extended period.
Why are workcations gaining popularity?
The recent surge in people taking workcations is primarily due to two reasons.
Firstly, the pandemic meant that the world was on lockdown, with travel being significantly restricted; as so many people were trapped at home, a rapid desire to travel and visit new locations has subsequently arisen now that restrictions have been lifted.
The second reason for a sudden rise in workcations is simple: it’s because people can.
In the past, with employees being located in an office, taking a two-month trip abroad while continuing to work would have been inconceivable.
But now, as many have proven they can work from anywhere, the possibilities are endless – including moving abroad for a few months and soaking up the sun on an exotic beach, all while working (providing there’s an internet connection).
What do workcations mean for HR
To make workcations feasible, HR professionals need to be proactive and not reactive, identifying the policies, procedures and software required before employees start making requests.
The areas I’d advise you to consider include:
1) Travel expenses
If your company covers travel expenses such as train fares to and from the office, policies may need updating to accommodate workcations.
Say an employee is travelling into the office via train and on their way back, they go a few stops further, past their home address, to an area they’re using for a workcation.
Will your business pay for that extended travel or will reimbursement only cover from their registered address to a designated location, such as an office?
Alternatively, perhaps you could implement a policy, where if managers have signed off the workcation location, travel expenses are permitted.
Either way, your travel expense policy for workcations needs outlining and communicating with employees to avoid any confusion as to what’s acceptable.
2) Start with a trial
Many businesses will have no experience with workcations, and as a result, it’s tough to say whether they will be successful.
Depending on the job role, some employees may flourish being in a new environment, while others could perceive it as overly distracting.
For businesses looking to implement workcations, before fully committing, I’d advise safeguarding yourself by initiating a trial period where employees can test it, but you also measure their output to determine if it is viable.
Tech tip: HR software can enable you to track how employees are performing against objectives while also providing managers with the capabilities to easily update and track employee performance, all in real-time, helping determine whether there’s been a dip or rise in outputs during workcations.
3) Ensuring an internet connection
Thanks to cloud technology, remote working employees can technically operate from anywhere under one condition: they have an internet connection.
To make workcations truly viable, businesses must ensure employees can provide the same output, but without a strong internet connection, disruption will make that impossible.
I’d advise that within your rules, it’s made clear that employees taking workcations are required to stay somewhere with a suitable internet connection or have the ability to relocate somewhere that does during the working day.
If upon arrival, for whatever reason, a suitable internet connection isn’t available, your policies must outline the next steps. Whether that’s changing the time away to last-minute annual leave or returning home.
4) Set a clear policy
To make workcations successful, you must have trust between the business and employees; it needs to be clear what the processes are and what’s expected, which can be achieved through clear HR policies.
The last thing you want is for employees to suddenly start taking informal workcations without instructing the business as they pose a wide array of health & safety challenges and security risks when done ad-hoc.
Tech tip: to ensure your workforce is aware of changes, you can utilise HR software to send new policies directly to employees and request a ‘read receipt’ to confirm they’ve received and understood the message.
5) Update your insurance
If people begin working from new locations and travelling abroad, you must update your insurance policies in line with the change.
Typically, employees are covered for injuries if they happen in the office or at their registered home address, but what if they’re working from a new location – will your cover count?
Also, does your loss and theft cover still apply if employees take equipment to non-registered locations, in particular, abroad?
Work laptops are confidential assets that can house extremely sensitive customer and business data, so you must ensure you’re covered for any eventuality.
A potential option as part of your workcation policies could be that employees must provide proof of travel insurance that covers this threat.
Are workcations the future of remote working?
If managed correctly, I see workcations becoming the natural evolution of remote working for a next-generation workforce.
Providing the logistics are under control and employee output can be monitored, workcations could prove invaluable in improving wellbeing and recruitment/retention.
However, as with remote working, software will play an invaluable role in facilitating workcations for both employees and HR professionals. See how our HR solutions can help you facilitate an industry-leading employee experience here.