Working holidays have never been so good

After working long hours under tight deadlines for a large project as a landscaper in Pittsburgh, Daryn Cassada was exhausted. So her boss paid a week at a wellness center in Hilton Head, SC. It wasn’t exactly a vacation, but it wasn’t a work trip either.

Ms. Cassada exercised, took mindfulness classes, ate gluten-free and sugar-free meals, and answered calls as needed to help move her real estate business forward.

“Most of the people who were there were actively working,” she said of her stay at the resort last October. “They would be there with their computer doing it and making sure they got to their next Pilates class.”

During the pandemic, millions of workers – and their bosses – realized that there is much work that can be done efficiently from anywhere. The tradeoff for many was that the lines between their personal and professional lives were blurring. Working hours have been extended. Slack emails and channels were pinging all hours of the day, night, and weekend. Taking a real vacation has become difficult. Today, some companies are betting that employees living and working hybrid lives will appreciate the opportunity to escape to a luxury environment where they can perform deep concentrated work while regaining a sense of balance.

Airbnb Inc.

Managing Director, Brian Chesky, recently asserted on Twitter that the pandemic will cause a revolution in the way people travel: Monday and Tuesday are the fastest growing days of the week for families. Given the likelihood that for many workers there will no longer be a five-day workweek in an office, the rental platform predicts that people will continue to book trips that mix vacation and work.

An Aqua Zumba class at the Hilton Head Health Resort, where landscaper boss Daryn Cassada sent her for a week with limited work obligations and plenty of free time.


Gavin McIntyre for The Wall Street Journal

Hilton Head Health, where Ms. Cassada has traveled, launched its ‘Wellness at Work’ package in August 2020. Instead of a full day of fitness classes and lectures, the work-themed week includes several hours. per day for office hours, conference calls and virtual meetings. The resort identified that people struggled to do their homework and knew that many clients in demanding positions might not be able to take seven to ten days off.

“We thought, ‘What if we could change our current programs? ”Said Taryn Scher, spokesperson for the company. “You just need to change it enough that people don’t have to stop working. ”

A “Mindful Eating” class at the Hilton Head Health Resort.


Gavin McIntyre for The Wall Street Journal

Stephen Sanchez, who worked in finance before moving to the hospitality industry, has long wanted a scenic location within driving distance of New York City to do focused work. He had two toddlers at home in a Manhattan apartment, and his personal to-do list was a perpetual distraction. This served as the inspiration for Branches PBC, a work and wellness center in the Catskills which is slated to open at the end of next year.

Branch marketing materials are aimed at HR professionals, showing how productive people can be while enjoying resort-style wellness offerings.

“It’s not meant to be a substitute for a real vacation,” Sanchez said. “I tend to think of this as ‘paid time’ that complements paid time off. ”

The resort will offer outdoor Wi-Fi, individual booths to focus on work, guided productivity sessions, collaboration rooms for team brainstorming, and leisure activities like yoga and fly fishing for times when clients are not working.

A rendering of a planned work booth at the Branches’ Catskills site, which is slated to open next year.


PBC branches

Mr. Sanchez hopes to open more branches, all located in scenic areas within driving distance of major cities such as San Francisco and Austin. The resort’s website includes materials for employees on how to market the idea to their bosses, including avoiding household demands such as housework and office distractions such as unnecessary meetings and gossip. “You can recharge your batteries without sacrificing connectivity or productivity,” the brochure encourages. Inc., an eight-month-old start-up that recently raised $ 7 million, also aims to meet the needs of those interested in “desktops”. The company owns a ski-in ski-out property near Lake Tahoe; another in Mendocino, California, overlooking the ocean; and two more along the Oregon Coast, where flexible workers can book luxury accommodations with work space and outdoor activities nearby.

John Andrew Entwistle, the founder of Wander, said he came up with the idea after renting a cabin in Colorado during the pandemic, only to find out she had an unreliable internet connection, a bad mattress and only one. coffee table for a workspace. He saw the need for a rental experience more specifically tailored to the teleworker.

Wander Spaces feature 1 gigabit Wi-Fi speeds, 38-inch curved monitors, docking stations, speakers, and webcams.

“People can spend a week, two weeks or more at one of these truly amazing properties and have all the infrastructure they need to be productive, whether it’s field offices or standing desks in inside, ”Mr. Entwistle said.

Last summer, at Market Ltd., a London-based software company, employees got a new benefit that allows them to work up to 45 days a year outside of their home country. An employee of the startup of 200 people worked for several weeks from the island of Saint Lucia in the Caribbean. Others plan to travel across Europe, working from different ski resorts.

“We wanted to make sure we gave everyone a chance to re-energize,” said Hanna Smith, director of human resources for the company. “You can mix vacation and work time. “

As Paddle executives mulled over how to improve the benefit, they recently decided to include £ 250, equivalent to around $ 330, in Airbnb credits per year for each employee.

Brinton Motheral, president of Motheral Real Estate in Pittsburgh and boss who paid for Ms Cassada’s stay at the Hilton Head wellness center, has himself been to the same retreat several times. He said he always came back healthier and more positive. He wanted to reward Ms Cassada for her hard work, he added, but he also expects the company to take advantage of her absence. He found that at the height of the pandemic, her team of seven were stressed, more lethargic and had less time to take care of themselves.


Would you take an employer sponsored “time paid” work trip to a resort? Join the conversation below.

He sent two more to Hilton Head before Ms. Cassada. They didn’t take vacation days and called when needed for calls, but spent most of the week on vacation. It plans to continue offering resort time, which costs $ 4,800 per week, to some of its employees once a year.

“The benefits are multiplied by 10,” he said. “It’s true that when people are happier in themselves, they are more productive. “

Write to Katherine Bindley at [email protected]

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