So, what is a workcation? It’s when you blend work with vacation; no surprises there. It might be for two days or two months. Either way, the expectation is that you’ll be running around a new city, town, or island having adventures and taking in the local culture when you’re not working.
Most people I’ve talked to who blend work and travel have the same problem I do.
We work too much.
People approach a workcation with the “I have to impress my boss” mindset, so they end up overworking.
Working too much + jet lag = some serious burnout.
Most digital nomads, remote workers, and location independent folks I’ve met aren’t sitting on a beach somewhere, trying to trick our managers into thinking we are working. Nah. We are actively putting in work!
Now let’s be real. Part of the word “workcation” includes the word “work”. We absolutely need to be getting our work done while traveling. But we need to make sure we are enjoying the vacation part too.
Have a system in place that will keep you productive while you travel.
You might be off to some sunny, culturally rich location where you’ll meet new people and have life-changing experiences. But, you’re getting paid to do a job, and you want to have a job to go back to, right?
Do not let a lack of process burn you out.
If you work at a remote company, taking a workcation means adapting the current way you work, but in a different timezone. As long as you adjust the time zone on Google Cal, go somewhere with strong wifi, and have a strategy for beating jetlag, you should be good to go.
If you work an office, this will take more preparation. You’ll need to maintain a greater level of communication with your team using digital tools that you most likely dabble in.
You may be using Slack, Google Hangouts or Skype on a daily basis, but not at the same rate and frequency as a remote worker.
Word to the wise: get the ball rolling on remote communication at least two weeks before your trip.
Practice having a couple of meetings when you’re out of the office. For example, go to a coffee shop during an IPM or stand up. This will allow you to see what your team needs to do to communicate with you when you are traveling. Do they need to reserve a room or get an HDMI cable hooked up to a tv? It’s better to sort these things out before your trip, not 10 minutes before a meeting.
If you write code for a living or do anything code adjacents like DevOps or Support, the way you program will be different too. Practice using TMate to SSH into someone else’s computer before your trip. That way if you do need to pair, or a partner to debug, you won’t have to waste time figuring out what technologies to use, and how to use them.
Enjoy the vacation part of your workcation.
If you’re just going to work, stay at home. There is no reason to hop on a plane, get jetlag, worry yourself about making meetings in different timezone if you’re just going to work!
Every time I come home from a workcation, there is a list of things I wish I would have done. Yes, I completed my work. But this year, I missed out on surfing in Lisbon and going on a safari in Dubai. I didn’t make time to visit Museo Mural Diego Rivera in Mexico City.
If you are going to go on a workcation, make sure you set aside time to get to know the culture of the country you are visiting. Working from a Starbucks is one thing. Only hanging out with people who share your culture while aboard is another.
Consider working from a popular digital nomad location
I’m not saying you have to spend a lot of time with digital nomads. Depending on the place you chose it could be great, or it might not be the experience you’re looking for. But for your first workcation, working from a city where they flock has its advantages. You’re guaranteed that you’re in a location with reliable wifi, affordable housing, and fantastic food to eat.
You might learn from them too; digital nomads have taught me how to become a better remote worker, and how to maintain wellness while traveling.
The Nomad scene certainly has its problems (interestingly enough they are similar to problems we have in tech). But, there are plenty of nomads you’ll meet who are ready to help when you need it.