05th Oct 2018
What is a workation?
Put simply, it is a holiday that combines both business and leisure.
Why would you take one?
According to Entrepreuner.com, one of the number one reason people start a new business is for “flexibility” and to work your own hours. But for those of us in business, especially in the early stages, we know that the only flexibility we have is deciding whether to eat lunch at our desk or actually take a break.
So, why on earth would you work so hard if you can’t have a flexible life? well, the majority of us love it, in fact, we thrive off the stress sometimes. However, usually if setup correctly by around year 2 or 3, it starts to pay off and you do start to get some flexibility. Because by then we have a team behind us or learn to outsource more, or better yet we learn to say no and stop taking on too much work.
And that’s when we realise we need to actually start implementing this “flexibility” thing. And for me, that was thinking about what I enjoy the most outside of my business, and that was, travelling and being by the beach.
But being a business owner, unfortunately, we can’t just put in an annual leave request and turn on the automatic reply. Last year I wrote a post on how to take a holiday and I spoke about how it takes a lot of planning and preparation. The good thing about a workation is, there’s a little less pre-work to do, so below you can see my top tips on taking a workation for (service based) business owners:
What to do before you take a workation?
- Choosing the right destination. Go somewhere with a similar time zone. At this point, you need to remind yourself you’re going on a workation, not a holiday. So somewhere close but far enough that you still feel like you’re getting away. If you’re an ocean lover like me, I highly suggest places like South East Asia. I trialled the London timezone earlier this year and it was just too hard. Unless you want to be working at 2am or waiting for 24hours for a reply. Places like Vietnam which is where I resided for 2 weeks are ideal.
- Plan your schedule. Now that you know where you’re working from, decide if you are going to do a morning shift or afternoon shift. I simply decided I would rather wake up early for a 7am start in order to switch off at around 2pm – 3pm.
- Find an office. whether is your hotel’s breakfast bar, your Airbnb study room, or a co-working space, make sure you commit to this before you leave. That will be your office for the next couple of weeks.
- Commit. I’ve done “oh I’m going on holiday but I’ll do a little bit of work here and there, and hope for the best” thing, and whilst that can work out just fine, it’s not a workation, that’s simply a holiday and you being unable to switch off. Commit to the fact you are going away AND working.
- Let your clients know: The first thing I did after deciding where I was as travelling to, was working out the time difference and letting my clients and team know what hours I would be online and if I didn’t get back to them in that time to allow another business day.
The idea of the workation is being able to have the luxury of working from anywhere in the world, so long as there’s a wifi connection. It’s about a change of scenery, it’s about immersing yourself in another culture whilst doing your everyday job, it’s about getting away from the same four walls to see more of the world whilst you work, all of this helps spark ideas and refresh your mind.
So, how did I go?
Great. I met up with a travel buddy, who has been working remotely for the past 6 months, which helped a lot. We committed to 7am-3pm every day, excluding weekends. We used our hotel’s cafe as the office, which faced out onto a little river and had a pool close by for break time. Bliss.
By week two, I realised I needed to be around more people and coincidently we saw a flyer for a local co-working space. Coming from being based at a co-working space in Melbourne, I jumped at the chance to find this place.
And after a 30-minute bike ride in what felt like 45 degrees, we found it nestled in the local village of Hoi-Ann. We were given a quick tour by their community manager and by the end of the day we were signed up to the pub trivia/ after work drinks with everyone.
We only got to spend two days at this little space called The Hub, Hoi-An, but it’s easy to see why so many expats become accused to the nomad life. We met an array of people from running crypto businesses, app designers, yoga teachers and everything in between. And they weren’t just working to get money to fund their life, they were working because they love what they do, and they also love to travel. Which made for instant connections.
So, if I was to do it again, what would I do differently?
Not a lot, but I would find a co-working space from day one. Not only does it allow you to meet new people but it makes you feel like you are apart of something, and gives you the mindset that you are really at work.
And lastly, I know some of you are asking how on earth did my friend manage to do it for six months? Or, what job has allowed her to do it full-time? So I asked her for you…
Tell us how you got to land such an amazing gig?
Remote working was actually a really happy accident for me. I landed a job I love in Melbourne and worked in their Richmond office for 6 months. I had a tempting opportunity arise to join my mates who were travelling in the Philippines. I was sure I’d have to choose between giving up my job and going travelling. When I confided in my co-workers about my conundrum they pitched the idea of working remotely. I’m also lucky my job is all web-based, so a role in social media and marketing make this possible. Six months and five countries later, I’m still working for the same wonderful team. Shoutout to my boss for being a legend.
Surely it’s hard to be disciplined and make sure you work, how do you make sure you stay on track?
Well, I’ve always been a morning person so I try to make sure I stick to an early rise. I find getting to it first thing in the AM keeps me motivated. As for social distractions, it was a pretty steep learning curve. Initially, I was staying in hostels and trying really hard to connect with people and say “yes” to everything social. I realized pretty quickly that wasn’t sustainable.
Most folks staying in hostels on holiday have no schedule or obligations. I either went along with their plans and set myself behind on work or missed out and never saw them again. I’ve found it helpful to seek out other remote workers who have similar schedules to mine. It’s been a great way to remove a lot of distraction without feeling like I’m skipping out on a social life.
One word of advice or anyone looking to work remotely?
Confidence and commitment would be my two biggest pieces of advice. Just because you’re working remotely doesn’t automatically mean things are going to run smoothly. It takes time to find your footing in a new country and I strongly recommend giving yourself permission to move slowly. If you find a town you love, enjoy it. Stay confident in your choice to work remotely. It can be tough to explain to older generations because it’s an A-typical working structure. Keep networking along the way so you’ll have connections to approach if your work runs dry.
And lastly, for those of your hustling away in business, especially the ones who haven’t managed to make any “me-time”. If you’re not in a position to take a workation yet, there are other ways to embrace the flexibility, whether it’s treating yourself to a late start or making sure you take the weekend off whatever it is, make sure you make time to unplug, or you’ll burn yourself out.
Comment below if you’ve had experience with workations, we’d love to hear your tips and stories!