Exhaustion is widespread in the world of work. Even those who work online are exhausted, and during the Covid crisis, they were faced with additional stress: short-time working, a sense of isolation while working remotely from home, home-schooling, Covid infection, fear of loss of livelihood, and worry about the future… These were just a few of the reasons why many people felt burnt out after two years of the pandemic. Correspondingly, the longing for time off and the desire to escape the everyday routine is just as intense. Nevertheless, how can companies respond to this and make a virtue of necessity in times of acute skills shortages?
One possible answer is the workation – combining ‘work’ with a ‘vacation’. This means that one’s professional activities do not always have to be tied to an office at home or in the workplace, but can also be carried out while on the move at a holiday resort. What might sound to many managers like a free pass to do nothing at all could be the future of the digital world of work, because why should someone who can work from home not be able to work just as well somewhere else? After all, the last two years have shown that there is no conflict between remote work and productivity. Moreover, the trend not only offers benefits for employees; it also promises opportunities from the employer’s perspective.
Here are five areas in which companies can benefit from workation and coworkation, with whole teams working in one holiday setting:
Stressed, exhausted employees are not only less productive, they are also absent more often and for longer. Workations and coworkations enable companies to make an active contribution to the well-being of their employees, and to provide opportunities for relaxation alongside the job. New surroundings, ideally close to nature, restore depleted energies and have a positive effect on mood and concentration. In addition, they invite exploration, which means being out and about in the fresh air.
Creatives have long been in the know that a change of scene brings inspiration and new ideas. It clears the mind and gives a new perspective. This is not only beneficial for individuals, but is also perfect for teams who are responsible for designing complex digital solutions. Coworkation spaces are places for networking and exchange, where you frequently come across coworkationists from other companies and sectors. This is ideal for fresh inspiration.
Personal contact also plays a role in the internal life of a company. The last two years have shown that purely digital communication offers little opportunity for a genuine sense of camaraderie. It is important for the health of a company that colleagues also get together in person, share the same experiences, and meet up in a relaxed atmosphere. This reinforces the collective spirit and company loyalty. Whoever provides coworkations for their employees or individual teams will sustainably promote team-building and a common identity, thereby boosting employee morale.
As regards employee retention, in times of a skills shortage, many companies tend to concentrate on developing new recruitment strategies, consequently losing sight of the needs of their existing employees. In the process, however, they run the risk of losing valuable specialist employees to the competition. With workations and coworkations as an established component of the ‘New Work’, companies can position themselves as employers who take care of their own people and cultivate a modern corporate culture.
A positive image as an employer will also help with recruitment. The up-and-coming generation have a taste for travel and place high value on flexibility and work-life balance. A job that offers the possibility of travelling to beautiful places and working in them for a while corresponds more closely to the aspirations of the new generation, rather than strict rules on attendance.
Especially in digital careers, where workplace attendance is not always strictly necessary, there is a lot to be said for employers being open to coworkations and workations as a new form of working. However, for this, one thing is required before all else: trust! Trust your own employees. Everything else is a question of proper organisation.
Saint Elmo’s has now embedded the possibility of coworkation or workation firmly into the agency's new work model. As well as working from home, every employee can work from a place of his or her choosing for up to eight weeks per year, including abroad. Our experience is that there are no interruptions to the work and colleagues who have taken advantage of this opportunity are very happy – trust pays off!
Saint Elmo’s Tourismusmarketing has recently conducted a study on the readiness of companies in the Germany-Austria-Switzerland region to allow coworkation. The Coworkation Study, undertaken jointly with the Europäischen Tourismus Institut (ETI) on behalf of CoworkationALPS in late 2021, shows that some 60 per cent of employees would consider a coworkation if given the opportunity. A full two thirds of the employers surveyed were also found to be in favour of it in principle. Most of the companies that had already experienced of this concept, rated their experience as positive. Hardly any negative experiences emerged from the study. In addition, the object of the study was to establish the basic prerequisites for coworkations and the requirements for coworkation locations, from the perspective of the companies and their employees.
Author: Verena Feyock, Managing Director at Saint Elmo’s Tourismusmarketing