A guide to the workation: combining work, vacation, and team building.
Ever since working from home has become the new normal, more and more companies have adopted a hybrid model to allow employees to make the most of their work-life balance, including Sendcloud. Plenty of studies and surveys have shown that offering flexible ways of working boosts productivity, employee satisfaction, engagement, and happiness. This hybrid approach to work opens up new and exciting possibilities, like working from anywhere and, particularly, the workation!
By looking at the recent experience of our Customer Support DACH team, in this article we'll look explore some of the best ways to organize your team's workload and set up during a workation. You'll also find their tips on how to make it a valuable experience for everyone!
What is a workation?
A workation is exactly what it sounds like: a working vacation. Imagine a regular workday on your everyday schedule, with the benefits of being anywhere your dream holiday would be—a solitary beach, a party island, an Alpine lake… just close your laptop, and off you go riding into the sunset.
As Recruitee puts it, it's all about
“Combining work and leisure to allow employees to relax and be more productive. Think of it as working during vacation.”
Workations can be an excellent way for anybody to extend their vacation time and add a nice extra bonus to their well-deserved holidays. Even entire teams are now opting for workations—more and more choose to go as a team-building activity, a different way to spend time away from the office and get to know one another on a personal level.
The last to join the workation bandwagon at Sendcloud was our Customer Support DACH team (CS), who chose to spend their workation by renting a house on a Croatian island.
What does a workation look like?
A workation can be anything you want it to be! As we saw, workations are not just for solo workers, they can be an opportunity for teams to work together, collaborate, and spend quality time with each other. The terms are very flexible and can be tailored to each team’s needs.
It's a great time to work in a different setting. Think about choosing a holiday destination that can also provide a productive environment for your team to get things done—you'll want to find somewhere that offers opportunities for bonding that won't interfere with your ability to deliver results.
This summer, our CS DACH team rented an entire house on the Croatian island of Šolta, only a short ferry ride away from Split, where they could work and enjoy the summer. They were able to get productive during the day, and after wrapping up their work, they had time to enjoy the sea and spend time together.
How did they organize their workation?
Once they arrived, they started planning the space to determine what the setup will be. Together, they figured out the house layout and assigned defined areas for different types of work.
For example, you could have one main area as a communal office space where people can work comfortably on their laptops while talking with others or catching up on phone calls. You also may want to designate a different area as a quiet meeting space where people can go if they need some time away from the noise and chatter—whether for calls, remote meetings, or some focus time.
What about the living together side of the experience? The team agreed that it's important to be clear upfront on how to divide everyone's responsibilities. Track expenses, establish a cleaning or cooking schedule, and make sure everybody gets a room they're happy with. This different kind of teamwork allows for bonding while also ensuring a smooth experience for everyone, before and after the workation.
Finally, the team decided to break into two groups and agreed that each group will sign off a little earlier every other day, so they could enjoy the vacation aspect of the experience too!
What worked and what didn’t?
Everyone on the team agreed that the best choice was to let all organized activities be non-mandatory. Activities such as boat trips, dinners, and hikes, were all left open for anyone who wanted to participate. The result? A totally unexpected outcome! By taking off the pressure and allowing people to find their own pace, everyone ended up wanting to spend as much time together as possible, with the whole group joining all planned activities.
One thing they would have done differently? Bring extra power strips! While the team had plenty of chargers, they didn't foresee needing to plug in multiple devices simultaneously. Bringing along extra power supplies could have helped ensure everyone had enough juice during the trip, but nobody got too worried about running out of battery power—they laughed it off every time they would have to take turns charging their laptops!
What are the benefits of a workation?
Workations are a great way to help teams work better together. Think about what can happen on a regular day away from the office routine. Cooking shifts? Bathroom schedules? Meetings by the pool? Teams can use workations to practice teamwork in a different and more relaxed environment, where they have the chance to cooperate in a whole new way.
As our Team Lead Miro Lucic shared:
“Organizing this workation has been a great chance to spend time with the entire team. We organized everything from transportation, how to split expenses, and what activities to join after work. We absolutely saw our productivity increase and a definite uplift in everyone’s spirit!”.
Indeed, what Miro shared is the true benefit of going on a workation. Spending more quality time with each other can also help with communication, team building, and solving problems that arise in the workplace. Getting to know one another on a personal level also encourages cooperation and mutual understanding, ultimately leading to more effective teams.
On top of that, a change of scenery can often be a blessing for your team's mood and motivation. New experiences and surroundings can make you feel recharged and energized, boosting creativity, and even leading to new and groundbreaking ideas.
How to enjoy your workation: 5 final tips from our team
1. Organize your workspace.
Having a comfortable workspace will already bring you halfway through a successful workation. Make sure you have a good communal area where you can exchange ideas, work together, and take breaks from working; designate quiet meeting spaces for calls or remote meetings; and gear up on hardware by bringing plenty of chargers, power strips, and mice or keyboards if you use them. Bring extras of everything so you're prepared for unexpected surprises!
2. Allow everybody to unwind.
The vacation element of a workation is just as important as having a comfortable workplace to ensure everyone has a pleasant experience. Make sure you include fun group activities, but also clarify whether attendance is mandatory. Give people the option to opt out of them if they wish—the end result may surprise you! A great tip can also be splitting up your team into groups and alternating who signs off early.
3. Plan ahead.
Planning ahead is the key to ensuring your workation goes smoothly. Don't let yourself get caught off guard by last-minute surprises—figure out the best route from the airport to your destination, or study the accommodation photos to see how to make your office space feel homey. If you know other coworkers who've done something similar before, talk to them about their experiences. You can also check online: read through what others have done and see how their teams worked together. This will give you an idea of what works for your team and what doesn't.
4. Set clear expectations.
It's no secret that having clear expectations always helps everyone involved. Make sure you're all on the same page about splitting expenses, what type of accommodation to book, or what type of groceries to buy. Don't worry if you need a little extra planning time to figure out the best options for your group. Everyone is working towards the same end goal, so set clear expectations and you'll have a great time!
5. Have fun!
This may seem obvious, but it's important to remember that even though workations with your team are meant to be fun, they still require hard work. So remember to keep the mood light, your energy levels high, and enjoy yourself!
Hi there! 👋 I am Malvina and I am part of the Employer Branding team at Sendcloud. We are a Dutch SaaS company that’s revolutionizing e-commerce around Europe thanks to our cutting-edge platform. You can find out more about our incredible Customer Support heroes on their team page.
Feel free to browse our People stories here, or our tech articles on Dev.to. Make sure to also browse our jobs page if you see yourself as part of our bunch, we’re always looking for our next star player!