Sun, Sand, and Spreadsheets? What is a Workation & How it Works
May 28, 2024
min read

Sun, Sand, and Spreadsheets? What is a Workation & How it Works

Eli McGarvie
Eli McGarvie

Many employees dream of swapping the office cubicle for a hammock swaying between palm trees, the sound of crashing waves, and your new background music. Sounds dreamy, right? 

Well, it's not just a fantasy – it's the workation revolution.

As a tech professional who's lived this blend of work and play, I can tell you firsthand that workations are more than just a travel trend. 

They're a mindset shift, a way to recharge your batteries without sacrificing your career goals. It's about embracing flexibility, exploring new horizons, and finding that sweet spot where productivity and adventure intersect.

And as a company, it's really important you take note of what these are, how they work, and the benefits they can bring to both your employees and your business. When your employees win, so do you.

Now, I get it. You might be thinking, "Sounds amazing, but is it really feasible?" Or maybe, "What about distractions, Wi-Fi woes, and those pesky time zone differences?" Don't worry; this guide's got you covered.

We'll explore who can benefit most, weigh the pros and cons, and even peek into the future of this evolving work style. Plus, I'll spill the beans on some of my favourite workation destinations (and the lessons I learned along the way).

So, whether you're a boss curious about how to make workations work for your team or an employee itching to pitch the idea to your higher-ups, buckle up. It's time to discover if the workation life is right for you.

So, What's the Deal with Workations?

A girl sitting on the beach working on her laptop with her smartphone and luggage

If you're picturing a laptop perched on a beach towel with a margarita in hand, you're not far off. It's literally "work" mixed with "vacation".

A workation is like a mashup of your favourite Netflix shows – it's "The Office" meets "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown." It's about ditching the daily commute for a change of scenery, while still keeping your career on track.

Think of it this way: remote work unshackles you from your desk, but a workation takes that freedom to the next level. 

Instead of just working from your home office or the local coffee shop, you're logging on from a charming European village, a bustling Asian metropolis, or a cosy cabin in the woods.

How Do Workations Fit into the Modern Work Landscape?

  • Flexibility on Steroids: Workations are the ultimate expression of flexible work arrangements. You can tailor your schedule to your surroundings, fitting in work around hikes, museum visits, or even surfing lessons.
  • The Remote Work Revolution: They're a testament to the fact that great work doesn't just happen within four walls. As long as you've got a reliable internet connection, you can be just as productive (or even more productive) in a new environment.
  • The Digital Nomad Dream: For those who crave a location-independent lifestyle, workations are a natural fit. It's about combining your passion for travel with your professional pursuits.

Workations aren't just about escaping the office – they're about finding a new rhythm, a new way to blend work and life. They can spark creativity, boost productivity, and give you a fresh perspective on both your career and the world around you.

So, Is a Workation Right for You?

A guy and a girl on a workation on laptops out in the sun

Let's be real: not every job is cut out for a workation. You probably won't find a surgeon operating remotely from a beachside bungalow. 

But if your gig falls into the tech sphere (or any field where laptops and Wi-Fi reign supreme), the possibilities open up.

Think about it: software developers, digital marketers, IT consultants, UX designers – the list goes on. If your work primarily lives in the digital realm, chances are you've got the building blocks for a workation.

Traits of a Successful Workationer (Yep, I Just Made Up a Word):

Now, this isn't a free-for-all. I've seen workations go off the rails when people lack the discipline to stay on track. To rock the workation life, you need to be:

  • Self-Motivated: No one's going to be looking over your shoulder. You've got to be the kind of person who sets their own deadlines and sticks to them.
  • Organised: Juggling work and play takes some serious planning skills. You need to create a schedule for deep work and exploration.
  • A Communication Pro: Keeping your team in the loop is essential when you're working from a different time zone. Over-communicate to avoid misunderstandings.

What Employers Look For:

If you're hoping to pitch a workation to your boss, or you're a company looking to see whether you should be allowed to offer workation opportunities, they'll likely be looking for a few key things:

  • A Proven Track Record: Have you consistently delivered results while working remotely? Stats show workations actually boost productivity by up to 90%, and creativity by 81%. That's a major plus.
  • Communication Skills: Can you clearly convey updates, challenges, and ideas, even miles away?
  • Self-Management Mastery: Can you handle your workload without constant supervision?

The Tech Industry Advantage

Here's the thing: tech companies are often at the forefront of flexible work arrangements. They get the value of autonomy, creativity, and the need to recharge. So, if you're in tech, pitching a workation might not be as crazy as you think.

The Good, the Bad, and the Wi-Fi: A Realistic Look at Workations

A beach with a sign saying they don’t offer Wifi

I'm not going to sugarcoat it: workations are awesome. But like that time I tried surfing in Bali (spoiler: it didn't go well), there are some potential wipeouts you need to be aware of.

The Upsides: Why Workations Can Rock Your World (and Your Work)

  • Work-Life Balance, Reimagined: Ever come back from a vacation feeling like you need a vacation from your vacation? Workations are different. You can unwind, explore, and get stuff done. It's a beautiful thing.
  • Motivation Makeover: Let's face it: staring at the same four walls day after day can stifle creativity. A change of scenery can do wonders for your motivation and spark new ideas.
  • Productivity Power-Up: I've personally experienced productivity surges during workations. Maybe it's the fresh air, the novel environment, or the fact that I'm not being bombarded by office distractions.
  • Happier Employees, Better Company: Offering workations can make your company a more attractive place to work. It shows you trust your employees and value their well-being.

The Challenges: Navigating the Workation Bumps

  • Blurred Lines Between Work and Play: When your office is a beach, it's easy to forget when to close the laptop and crack open a coconut. Setting clear boundaries is key.
  • Time Zone Tango: Coordinating meetings and deadlines across different time zones can be tricky. You'll need to be proactive and flexible with your communication.
  • The Productivity Plunge (It Can Happen): Not everyone thrives in a workation environment. Distractions are abundant, and some people simply need a dedicated workspace to focus.

Making Workations Work for Your Tech Team

If you're a tech leader, here are a few tips to maximise the benefits of workations while minimising the risks:

  • Tech Up: Invest in project management tools, communication platforms, and cloud storage to keep everyone connected and on track.
  • Set Ground Rules: Establish clear expectations around work hours, availability, and communication.
  • Encourage Time Management Skills: Offer training or resources to help your team members create effective workation schedules.

The bottom line is this.

Workations can be a game-changer, but they're not a one-size-fits-all solution. It's about finding what works for your company and your team. With some careful planning and the right tools, you can create a workation program that benefits both your employees and your bottom line.

The Workation Wave: Riding the Trend

Two female remote workers surrounded by potted plants

If you're thinking workations are just a passing fad, think again. This trend is riding a wave of momentum, especially in the tech world, and I've seen the numbers to prove it.

Workation Nation: By the Numbers

Recent surveys show that workations aren't just a fringe activity anymore. 

Depending on who you ask, anywhere from 30% to a whopping 40% of remote workers have already given it a whirl. And those numbers are climbing. In India, a survey of 3,000 workers found that 85% had tried it!

Experts are predicting that workations could become a double-digit growth industry in the next few years – we're talking serious potential here.

Tech Takes the Lead

Unsurprisingly, the tech industry is leading the charge.

In my experience, tech companies are always looking for ways to attract and retain top talent. And guess what? Workations are a pretty sweet perk.

As above, the benefits are clear:

  • Happier Employees, Happier Companies: A whopping 90% of workers report feeling more satisfied and engaged after a workation. Talk about a win-win!
  • Stress Buster: 83% of employees say workations help them combat burnout. Who needs a spa day when you've got a beach day?
  • Creativity Unleashed: 81% of workationers experience a surge in creativity. New surroundings = new ideas!
  • Loyalty Boost: 69% of employees are less likely to quit after experiencing the freedom of a workation. Who wants to leave a company that encourages adventure?
  • Productivity Power-Up: Nearly 90% of employees report a productivity boost after a workation. Looks like a change of scenery does wonders for focus!

So, Why the Sudden Surge?

A few key factors have converged to create this perfect storm for workations:

  • The Remote Work Boom: The pandemic was a catalyst for remote work, and many companies are sticking with it (at least partially). This has paved the way for more flexible work arrangements, including workations.
  • Tech to the Rescue: Let's face it, workations wouldn't be possible without the technology we have today. Cloud-based tools, video conferencing, and reliable Wi-Fi have made it easier than ever to work from anywhere.
  • Shifting Priorities: Burnout is a real problem in the tech industry. Workations offer a chance to recharge, explore, and find a healthier balance between work and life.

The Future of Work (and Play)

The data is clear: workations are here to stay. And for tech professionals who value flexibility, creativity, and a chance to see the world, this is a pretty exciting development.

Work from Paradise: My Favourite Workation Havens

Choosing the right destination can make or break your workation experience. I've had the pleasure of working from some pretty incredible spots, and I've learned a thing or two about what makes a location truly workation-worthy.

Here are a few of my personal favourites:

  • Lisbon, Portugal: This vibrant city has stolen my heart (and my productivity) on multiple occasions. The combination of reliable Wi-Fi, a thriving tech scene, stunning architecture, and delicious food (hello, pastel de nata!) is hard to beat. Plus, the beaches are just a short train ride away for those post-work dips.
  • Ubud, Bali: If you're seeking a more laid-back, wellness-focused workation, Ubud is the place to be. Picture yourself working from a bamboo hut overlooking rice paddies, taking yoga classes in the afternoon, and enjoying healthy, delicious meals. Just be prepared for the occasional monkey trying to steal your snacks!
  • Medellin, Colombia: This up-and-coming city is a digital nomad hotspot for a reason. It's got a low cost of living, friendly locals, a burgeoning tech scene, and a vibrant nightlife. The weather is nearly perfect year-round, and the surrounding mountains offer plenty of opportunities for adventure.
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand: This digital nomad haven is known for its affordable cost of living, delicious street food, and numerous coworking spaces. It's also a great base for exploring Northern Thailand's temples, mountains, and jungles.

Tips for Picking Your Perfect Workation Spot:

  • Don't Sacrifice Connectivity: Reliable Wi-Fi is non-negotiable. Do your research and look for places with a proven track record of good internet speeds.
  • Community Matters: Seek out destinations with a vibrant digital nomad community. Coworking spaces can be a great way to meet like-minded people and get work done.
  • Balance is Key: Don't forget about the "vacation" part of your workation. Choose a location that offers activities and attractions you'll enjoy.
  • Consider Your Budget: Workations can be as affordable or as luxurious as you want them to be. Do your research and set a realistic budget for accommodation, food, and activities.


The best workation destination is the one that aligns with your personal preferences, work style, and budget. So, do your research, trust your instincts, and get ready to embrace a new way of working and living.

So, Is the Workation Life for You (and Your Team)?

After all this talk of beachside laptops and mountain top coworking spaces, you might be itching to book your first workation. And honestly, I wouldn't blame you.

But before you pack your bags (and your chargers), remember: the magic of a workation lies in finding that sweet spot where work and play harmonise. It's about discovering new places, meeting interesting people, and expanding your horizons, all while still delivering stellar work.

If you're a tech professional, I believe you're uniquely positioned to embrace this new way of working. You've got the skills, the tools, and (hopefully) a company culture that supports flexibility.

For the Leaders Out There:

If you're running a tech team, I urge you to consider the power of workations. They're not just a perk – they're a strategic investment in your employees' well-being, creativity, and overall job satisfaction. 

And in today's competitive landscape, that can make all the difference.

Ready to Take the Plunge?

Whether you're a seasoned workationer or a curious newbie, I encourage you to explore this exciting frontier. The world is your office – so why not make the most of it?

P.S.: If you're looking for more resources, tips, and inspiration, check out We Are Developers. We’ve got a wealth of information on everything from choosing the right destination to setting up your remote workspace.

Happy Workationing!


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