“The Workcation”: A Surprising New Phenomenon

julie zellman

Julie Steele, Corporate Communications Manager

If there’s one linguistic device that our culture loves, it’s the portmanteau (or, the combination of two or more words into one new word). Think “advertorial,” “infomercial” and “Brangelina.”  The phrase, “staycation,” has now found itself in our collective lexicon, but “workcation” caught my eye immediately. I think most of us would agree that the words, “work” and “vacation” should never mix. So what is this new trend? A nightmare or perhaps, a brilliant business idea?

The article, “The rise of the ‘workcation:’ Vacationers pack their jobs in their suitcase” was not, to my surprise, published in The Onion. The article, featured in Canada’s The Globe and Mail, discussed this new cultural phenomenon of working while you are vacationing, but by choice, not by necessity. It’s almost like a “change of scenery” for the average telecommuter. For Tony Vlismas, working and vacationing are not mutually exclusive:

“There’s nothing that says I can’t have fun while I’m working,” says the 36-year-old, who’s now senior director of marketing at Polar Mobile, a Toronto-based developer of smartphone applications. “None of my bosses ever cared where I got the job done, so long as I got it done and they always knew that I would. My career is more like an extension of my life.”

With the rise of smartphones and tablets, working while on vacation has become the unfortunate norm for so many businesspeople. Though it varies from a quick email response to a full-on conference call, nine-to-fivers often find that their duties do not stop when they are out of office or even out of the country. So, some companies in Canada decided to offer a new form of flexible working called the, “workcation” to allow employees to travel while still doing their full-time jobs from the road, without having to use vacation time.

But is this really a healthy trend? Though some individuals seem to love the flexibility of creating a new ad campaign while beachside or crunching numbers at a café on the other end of the world, others feel that more defined boundaries need to be set between a person’s work life and personal life in order to fully focus on one or the other. Additionally, doing one’s job non-stop can lead to anxiety and stress, and vacations are a time to unwind. If you never unplug, burnout becomes a very tangible reality.

“Sometimes I forget to turn off,” Mr. Vlismas admits. “I might be at dinner and not be paying attention or may forget that there’s great stuff going on around me. I almost blur the line so that I forget the other side, which is the non-work side.”

New technological innovations, like mobile video conferencing, enable knowledge workers to emerge beyond the four walls of their cubicle and enjoy a more flexible work environment, whether that is at home or abroad. Though I agree that boundaries need to be set (a 24-hour workday is not healthy for anyone), it truly is an amazing alternative to be able to do a conference call from nearly any spot on the globe. Imagine the inspiration and perspective you would gain! With a little self-discipline and the right tools, a workcation could be your ticket to true work/life balance.

Tell us what you think! Is a workcation a fantastic idea, or your worst nightmare? Comment in the box below.

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2 Responses to “The Workcation”: A Surprising New Phenomenon

  1. Jeff Eagan says:

    Workcation sounds too positive. We call them Fakations.

  2. Johnny Chang says:

    Unless your job requires you to meet people face to face, no reason why this trend should not become more pervasive. Most jobs require a laptop, phone, and internet connection – that’s all. Video will help you stay connected when/as needed.

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