The Workcation

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Writing about work portability, but more specifically flexibility of location, reminds us of what a friend calls the “workcation”, which as the name might imply comes from combining work and vacation. It’s more than just packing up your work from some location other than your principle home base, and it’s more than being able to do some work while on a vacation. It sounds easy, but not unexpectedly, creating a workcation viable scenario is a lot harder than it seems. As we discovered in our portability article, the universe of those who can take effectively work from anywhere is relatively limited. The surprise lesson for us was realizing just how many skill sets within the internet advertising / marketing community allow for such a scenario.

A workcation might sound like the unofficial tag line to any work from home offer. While it might be a combination of work and vacation, making it a successful combination requires planning and lots of dedication. Workcation is working in a vacation location for an extended period of time (two weeks to months). There is a reason, though, that’s not called Vacationork, and it has nothing to do with it not sounding as good. It is work first. Thinking of doing it? Here is what we’ve gathered from those who do it successfully.

  • You are working. You are not on vacation. You just get to sound more impressive because you are in a different location.

  • As it is work first, that means you need to create a normal schedule. Either time shift so that you are working on your home local time, or work those same hours on the new timezone. If, however, your work involves a decent level of interaction with others, you will not want to take your first workcation to Australia, India or another location where creating some overlap online with your peers is difficult.

  • Choose your location wisely. Make sure there is constant and well working broadband. You’d be surprised how easy it is to head to a place and assume that you won’t have issues staying connected only to have them.

  • Get a mobile phone. You will absolutely want to use Skype on the machine, but you will need to be able to make and receive phone calls when away from the machine just as you do now.

  • Having a mobile phone, though, is no excuse to spend long periods away from the office during your work hours.

  • Work harder than you might in your normal environment. There is degradation from being in a foreign environment. You can’t be as productive, generally speaking, as when you are in the same timezone. Not to beat a dead horse, but you are working full-time not working part time and feeling good about being productive on vacation.

  • Network extensively. Workcations are a unique opportunity to not just experience a new locality but to learn about others in the industry who might be there.

  • Don’t mention to others you are away… at least don’t broadcast it. You aren’t keeping it a secret, but as the whole goal is to create a seamless work environment, the best strategy is to not make any excuses up front. You want it to seem as though nothing has changed, because, nothing has changed.

  • Create structure, not just in work but in fun. You have less time to enjoy, so make sure you plan where you want to go when you want to go there. Hit a museum before or after work instead of just drinks. If you do an activity before, be diligent about ending at a certain time and getting to the office.

  • It’s not a conference, so if you go out to dinners, don’t go out partying every night. You do not have permission to wake up with a hangover and use being away from home as an excuse.

  • Have fun and come back with lots of stories to make the rest of us jealous.

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