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Not long ago, remote work was one of the most sought-after perks. Specialists living far away from the company’s HQ found it very convenient, but because of the pandemic, it quickly became a necessity rather than a benefit. After some time, workers started looking for more attractive alternatives. And there came the idea of Workation.
Mixed feelings were what some people felt when moving to an obligatory home office. While many businesses struggled with the reorganization, the IT industry was the role model to follow. After all, constant change is nothing new in the sector, and the familiarity with the latest technologies only made the shift easier.
At Predica, employees could work remotely even before the pandemic, and when the official lockdown was announced, it only took us 48h to move everybody to the home office. You can read about that here.
Still, is this model the answer to everything?
It turns out there are some drawbacks. According to the 2022 State Of Remote Work, the biggest challenges remote workers face are:
Those in favor have gone one step further in their quest for an even more attractive alternative. No wonder the Workation trend is only gaining momentum, then.
In this article, I will focus on a few things to remember before setting out on a Workation journey and what makes IT specialists combine work and travel.
One more thing before we move on. All the pictures in the text below were taken by Predica’s employees who participated in the program. Many thanks for your contribution, guys!
The name is, of course, a combination of two words: work and vacation.
Let us remember that Workation does not affect our job responsibilities. We do the very same tasks that we would do in the office.
Also, you do not use up your days off but simply change the physical place where you carry out your projects remotely.
Usually, it means working from somewhere with different facilities or weather conditions that our current place does not have. Apart from beautiful views, there are also many tourist attractions to visit.
And by combining work and holiday, you can easily unplug yourself after work.
Regardless of how long you want to stay abroad or the destination you choose, it is important to plan everything carefully. That way, you will enjoy all the Workation advantages and achieve your travel goals.
In the next part of this article, I will be talking about the following elements to keep in mind before the journey:
The hints below are only some recommendations of mine and are in no way a ready to-do-list. Each trip will require a different approach, and this guide aims only to give you an overview of selected ideas.
Before going on Workation, think about the place where you want to spend the next couple of weeks or months and how you imagine your daily life.
The chances are that if you are planning a short-term trip, visiting all the most popular and beautiful places in the region will be your priority. Going to a tourist zone may then prove to be a hit.
There are disadvantages to it too. Prices are usually higher there, and the crowds of tourists may quickly drain the enthusiasm of even the most avid travelers. Working in such conditions will require much more focus and self-discipline.
Alternatively, you can look for a place in a residential area or the suburbs, especially when you are planning to stay there for some longer time. It is because the every-day life in a bustling city center may quickly become too tiring to handle.
However, that option is not free of drawbacks either. Although it is rather easy to find a place for a short stay in the tourist zones, the owners of suburban properties usually look for permanent tenants.
Where to look for a Workation apartment?
There are several online booking sites where apart from hotel rooms, you can find apartments or even a house to rent. Here’s a list of just a few:
When choosing a place to stay, do not forget to ask your colleagues who went on Workation before for advice. For example, at Predica, participants create a list of recommended places, and we also cooperate with a travel agency that can help with apartment booking or travel arrangements.
If none of your colleagues or friends has taken part in Workation yet, you can still make use of Facebook groups dedicated to digital nomads. The group members are always ready to share their knowledge and experience and to recommend places to stay abroad.
What if the apartment you went for does not meet your standards?
Well, what’s magical about Workation is that the place and time you want to spend somewhere are entirely up to you.
When you are not sure if the apartment you chose will be good enough for you, you may start looking for a better or cheaper alternative when you are already there.
You can also ask locals or other Workation participants in the region for help.
Also, do not forget to start looking for a place in advance. That will give you more time and space to think.
Another tip is about checking how prices change if you choose to stay 1 or 2 days longer. Long-term stays are often discounted, for example, on Airbnb.
Before choosing the apartment, check what means of transport are available in the area and how much they cost.
When you plan to visit many tourist sites in the city, then taking the local bus or subway may be better than driving a car. However, monthly or group tickets do not always entitle you to use all types of public transport, so remember to check that before buying one.
It goes without saying that traveling in a car will be the most comfortable option, especially when you frequently want to go on trips with your family or when you plan to stay far away from the city center.
The cost of renting a car may surprise you, though. If you plan your Workation in the region close to your country of residence, you may consider driving there with your own car.
Infrastructure is not only public transport but also some of the amenities that we often take for granted.
And by that, I mean unlimited access to water, electricity, and the Internet, which can be a problem in some areas of the world like some Caribbean or Asian countries.
Usually, they opt for vacation destinations with high or moderate temperatures.
And when you go to countries with sun all year rounds, there is no need to take too many clothes, so you can save space in the luggage for other things.
Workation is also an attractive alternative for the countless enthusiast of Nordic countries who also want to enjoy a place of their liking.
Of course, if you plan to travel to a place on the opposite side of the globe, do not forget about packing proper clothing.
The choice will usually depend on our weather preferences.
If crowds of tourists on the beach or in the city center are not your thing, I suggest booking an apartment in the low season and avoiding the holiday period.
Sightseeing will be more comfortable then, and the locals will be more likely to make closer contact. What is more, prices tend to be lower outside the peak season.
When choosing the destination, you will also need to consider time constraints.
It will definitely be much easier to cooperate with your team and contact your clients while staying in the same or close time zone.
For example, if your customers come from the USA, then Workation in the Caribbean islands sounds like a great idea, whereas staying in Japan may only discourage you from working. On the other hand, when you deal with Chinese clients, it will all be the other way round.
What you can also find troublesome is turning your routine upside down when working in a completely different time zone.
Let’s say that your family and friends who travel with you work in the morning, while you have meetings with your clients and team members in the afternoon. That way, you will not have a chance to enjoy the local attractions to the fullest with them.
However, thanks to flexible working hours, you can schedule part of your calls in a way that suits your and your family’s plans best.
Rent, shopping, tourist attractions – you will have to pay for them in the local currency.
If you receive your salary in a different currency, you may ask the HR department if you can change it. At Predica, for example, everyone who wants to go on Workation may request the organization to modify their contract for some time and receive payments in euro, US dollar, or Bulgarian lev.
Also, before setting out on the journey, do not forget to check if you will be entitled to the same benefits abroad. For example, at Predica, employees receive renewable educational and hardware budgets that can just as well be used on Workation.
In theory, people pay taxes where they reside. However, when you go on Workation, especially a long one, the question arises whether the country of residence will consider you a tax resident.
There will be different laws in each country, so it is hard to find one right answer.
The safest option would be to consult a tax advisor and clear up all your doubts. You may also ask your colleagues who went on Workation before for hints or contact the HR department.
If you are planning to drive a car in your destination, do not forget to check whether you will need to carry an international driving permit.
For people in the IT sector, it is clear that they only need a laptop and stable Internet connection to do their job. But what if the hardware breaks?
After all, Workation is not only about spending time in the place of your dreams. The trip should not affect your work in any way.
At Predica, we found an easy way to deal with unforeseen hardware failures. Our employees can get technical support from Dell in all the countries where its technicians operate. The service includes replacing or repairing company equipment, and that way, Predicans can avoid backlog or additional costs.
Apart from the basic work equipment, you may consider taking an extra headset, mouse, and charger. It may happen that the prices and access to your favorite products will be different abroad.
If you cannot imagine working without an extra monitor, you can take it with you when going on Workation by car.
However, if that is not possible, you may consider buying a second-hand one at your destination. Although it may seem costly, it does not have to be. Just visit websites where locals sell the equipment they no longer need.
When we think of Workation, we often imagine working on a beach or in an open-air restaurant. However, when there are no proper security measures in place, you may put the organization’s confidential data at a huge risk.
Before we start working in a different spot than we normally do, I recommend contacting the internal IT team to learn about the rules of using company equipment outside our usual place of work and accessing public wi-fi.
What is more, organizations tend to have their own policies regarding access to their internal resources. It is worth remembering to check them before taking the trip.
As far as countries of the European Union are concerned, their citizens can use public medical centers in other member states as long as they carry a valid European Health Insurance Card.
Citizens of other countries need to make sure whether such arrangements are available for them, and if not, make sure to purchase a relevant medical package.
Some organizations offer health insurance and private medical care as benefits for their employees. If that applies to your situation, then check with your company if you can use the services abroad.
Also, when you take some medication regularly, I recommend buying it in your country of residence as the prices abroad may be higher, and it is possible that some pharmacies will not be able to fill a foreign prescription.
When planning your Workation in an exotic country, do not forget to check what tropical diseases you need to protect yourself against. It may happen that you will have to take a vaccine or take preventive medicine. To make sure you are safe to go, you can make an appointment with a doctor of tropical medicine.
When your partner plans to travel with you, they will also need to check if the Workation program is available at their company.
Another issue is the compulsory education for kids. That will be a challenge when you want to travel during the school year.
You may, of course, enroll your children in a kindergarten or nursery, and the older ones can study at schools for foreigners where English is spoken. However great an idea it may be, it is an additional cost to consider.
When traveling with pets, do not forget to check transporting regulations and whether the country of destination has a mandatory vaccination policy for animals or imposes dog taxes.
Once you have chosen your destination, purchased insurance for your family, and learned about the cybersecurity policies, it is time to select the means of travel.
It will depend on how far away your destination is and how many people will go with you. However, let’s not forget to check if you can move freely between states and how long you may stay there.
For example, citizens of the European Union may easily stay for three months without registering in other member states. That does not apply to countries outside of the union.
I recommend checking way before the date of your departure whether you will need a visa. Sometimes this is only a formality that takes a few days and can frequently be done online.
Of course, I also need to mention that there are still some restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although they have been eased in most areas, some places still require their visitors to run a test or present a valid COVID Certificate.
First and foremost, it enriches remote work and is an excellent way of changing our everyday environment. That, in turn, can boost creativity and increase job satisfaction.
Weather is another important factor, especially when there is not enough sun in your country or when the conditions are simply too unpredictable. And if you dream about escaping from a bitter winter, or maybe the heat of summer, then staying in a place with more moderate temperatures will be a great relief.
Also, our usual summer trips tend to be too short to visit all the places we want. At the same time, staying for some longer time in the region of our dreams will help us learn more about its history and culture and make friends with local people.
Coworking spaces have been also gaining in popularity, and they are a hit among digital nomads looking for a comfortable place to work.
It also gives a great opportunity to network with people from different companies and industries. And such meetings will be perfect for brushing up on your second language.
Finally, trying something new and making changes in your everyday life may turn out to be something you have always been missing.
“If you decide to do it once, you will never want to stop! Why not try, then?”
Staying in the place of our dreams may require a lot of self-discipline. After all, concentrating on work when your window overlooks a lovely beach may be quite a challenge.
To keep yourself focused, you can download productivity apps such as Forest or Pomofocus.
And if your whole family stays in the same apartment where you work remotely, the problem gets even bigger. To help you deal with that, we prepared an article with ready-made tips to use. You can find it here.
It may also happen that the Internet connection is too slow for you to work comfortably. If that is the case, you may look for coworking spaces in the area using websites like Coworker or CoworkBooking.
Alternatively, you may buy a SIM card with an Internet package in the country where you stay and use the hotspot option to access the network on your laptop. That solution will also come in handy when you want to work in a café or near the beach.
As long as it suits you and your family, then why not?
The cost of living abroad will be different, but you may always choose a country where they are similar or even lower. Another idea is to rent your own apartment to other digital nomads while you are away.
And although in the media there have been talks about some companies getting back to the full-time office model, Predica, like many other IT organizations, lets their employees work from home or go on Workation and does not plan to change that at any point.
At Predica, Workation started as a pilot project in September 2021. However, the many positive experiences made it possible to extend it so that more and more employees may participate.
If you are looking for a place where you can spread your IT winds and take advantage of countless benefits like combining work and travel or using educational and hardware budgets, then Predica may be the answer.
You can check our current job offers here.
And finally, let me wish you all the best on your future Workation adventure!
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