I take a sip of chilled Sauvignon Blanc while gazing at the sprawling vineyards below my balcony. With the sun on my face, my husband and I dig into some fresh fruit from the local farmers’ market—crisp pears, figs and goat cheese.
A warm breeze flutters the gauzy fabric of my sundress as we open our laptops to start the workday. It’s 1:00 PM in Santa Cruz, Chile, 9:00 AM on the West Coast in the U.S.—and day 17 of our “workation.”
Six years ago, my husband (then boyfriend) and I set out to find a way to develop our careers while traveling the world—and without breaking the bank.
People told us we were crazy.
During some of our low points—power outages in China, freak storms in Belgium and lost luggage in South America—we thought that they might be right. But the highlights, such as working from a cruise ship that was sailing through Chilean fjords, have made what we have dubbed our “workations” worth the effort.
To date, we’ve taken our virtual office to 24 locations, turning the process of traveling while working into a science. Whether you’re an independent entrepreneur like me or you hold down a regular nine-to-five (the way my husband does as a marketing manager for an education company), you, too, can see the high-rises of Shanghai, the peaks of Patagonia or the beaches in Singapore—all while achieving your career goals.
The Career Benefits of Workations
Before you decide that taking a workation would be the equivalent of committing job suicide, consider these facts:
- Research has found that multi-cultural experiences and exotic surroundings generate more inspired and creative work.
- Workations decrease stress, which increases productivity, and leads to fewer sick days. Studies show that people with high levels of stress spend nearly 50% more on health expenses.
- A study in the Harvard Business Review found that when employees take just one day off per week, they report greater job satisfaction, more open communication with team members and better work-life balance, compared to regular employees.
As long as you do it right, a workation could very well improve your performance. Here are six of my personal tips to help get you on the road to work-travel bliss.
1. Take Stock of Your Job
It’s true that workations best lend themselves to certain professions, especially ones that require a lot of computer work. So surgeons or chefs probably won’t be able to pull off a workation regularly, if at all.
But if you do have a job that can be done mostly by computer or phone, you should try to fit workations—even just one every year or two—into your life. As for work tasks that need to be done in person, most can be accomplished virtually on a temporary basis, such as face-to-face meetings via Skype or conference calls conducted using speakerphone.
For example, my husband is on work video chat from nine to five, so his team can send questions any time—and ask to see the view from wherever in the world we’re working.