Workcations, Laptop Lugging: Should we mix work and leisure?
Ooccupations. Laptop bags. These are the latest buzzwords for vacationers taking advantage of remote work by taking more frequent and longer vacations. For better or worse, workcationing and carrying laptops is transforming both workplaces and the travel industry as new norms are set amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Should you bring your laptop to extend your next trip? Here are some pros and cons of mixing work and play on vacation.
What is laptop shipping?
The pandemic has allowed more people to embrace digital nomad life. Yet, for many, work abroad as a full-time traveler may be unrealistic. Instead, carrying around a laptop is a kind of “lightweight digital nomad”, providing many of the benefits of digital nomadism without requiring you to completely abandon your home base.
The trend largely took off in 2020, when hotels have started offering “work from anywhere” packages with discounted rates and perks like meals, premium Wi-Fi, separate workspaces, and sometimes babysitting. Similar packages still exist today as vacancy rates continue to soar.
After all, weekday hotel demand in the top 25 U.S. travel markets in the first full week of February 2022 was only 76% of what it was in the comparable week of 2019. , according to hotel data analytics group STR.
How often does a laptop carry?
50% of people today say they bring their work laptop on vacation, according to a December 2021 Expedia survey of 14,500 working adults. The survey also found that 41% say they frequently participate in Zoom calls while on vacation.
Carrying a laptop becomes even more common during vacations. According to Deloitte’s 2021 holiday travel survey of about 6,500 Americans, laptop luggers planned two to four trips between Thanksgiving 2021 and mid-January 2022. That’s twice as many trips than the planned one or two trips among people who disconnect completely on vacation. .
Laptop carriers typically stay longer at their destinations, which means more revenue for hotels. Deloitte’s survey found that working travelers are twice as likely to increase their travel budget from 2019 as those who go completely offline. Longer stays can also help hotels that have reduced housekeeping services save even more money.
But if carrying around a laptop is good for tour operators, is it really good for you and your employer?
Benefits of Carrying a Laptop
Rather than the typical pre-pandemic five-day tropical vacation, laptop luggers could go three weeks. But on this trip, you might be texting before a sunrise surf session, after which you’re back to your usual 9-to-5 job. The evenings allow you to explore new neighborhoods and restaurants without the pressure. to cram each experience into just a few days.
Other laptop wearers might prefer frequent, shorter rides. They can go home to repack and refresh their laundry, then opt for working from an Airbnb for a change of scenery.
Given his role as CEO of virtual events company TeamBuilding, Michael Alexis is no stranger to supporting productivity everywhere.
“Being able to take a longer vacation and work during it means more time to recharge while expanding your travel options,” says Alexis. “If you only had a week off, flying abroad is inconvenient. You lose at least two days to travel and can be jet lagged for the whole trip. With a laptop you can stay as long as you want.
Laptop Transport Problems
While vacations theoretically reduce burnout, carrying around a laptop can increase it.
The inability to fully unplug can increase stress if you’re constantly thinking about tomorrow’s meeting or always checking your email every few hours. In fact, 61% of Americans say they don’t consider workcations a real vacation, according to the Expedia study. And this is little compared to workers of other nationalities. By comparison, 80% of Canadians do not consider work vacations to be vacations.
Beyond burnout, carrying laptops can pose operational challenges. Time zones can become a mess of a schedule, and employer policies may prohibit bringing equipment such as a company-issued laptop overseas. Video calls that require professionalism might not fit your vacation wardrobe.
Meanwhile, finding reliable, fast Wi-Fi can be tricky in some places. Once you find a signal, sending files over a public internet connection can lead to security issues. Additionally, working in public spaces like cafes puts sensitive information at risk.
Companies might have to rethink what vacations are
Carrying a laptop has its pros and cons, and some employees might benefit from this lifestyle more than others.
“Companies need to change their thinking and stop trying to fit all employees into one vacation format,” says Kane Carpenter, head of employer brand consultancy Daggerfinn.
Carpenter discourages companies from implementing blanket vacation policies because some workers might benefit from a change of scenery, while others might find it distracting.
“In a world of increasing flexibility and digitalization, companies can take care of their workforce where each individual is,” he says. “For people who like to take as much time as possible and disconnect completely, no problem. For employees who like to be in tune, it’s important that companies encourage breaks and time off, but to creative and supportive manner.
Meanwhile, Alexis’ company has policies in place to ameliorate the issues.
“The employee must have a clear distinction between working time and vacation time,” he says. “We have had employees who travel and claim they are available by phone, which is not intentional working time and does not meet expectations.”
Among the TeamBuilding rules: employees must clearly define working hours versus vacation hours, and working hours must involve a stable and reliable internet connection (so flimsy airplane connectivity probably wouldn’t suffice). But Alexis says carrying around a laptop has generally been positive for her staff of more than 100 people.
“As long as employees manage their time and productivity well, we’re happy to adapt,” says Alexis.
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