Workation: the digital nomad test run



This article was created in collaboration with our partner AceWork. It was written by Jess Morgan and Thais Vieira.

As a remote worker, you have the opportunity to work from anywhere. Whether that’s from a home office or a new exotic locale each week, the option is up to you. However, a workation is different. Whether you’re just looking into working remotely or have a fully-fledged remote career, choosing to work while you travel is a great alternative if you still don’t want to be a full-on digital nomad. 

What is a workation?

A workation is a working vacation. So instead of waiting for the 2 weeks a year to hop on a plane and explore a new place, you can do that as you work. Digital nomads are the most common example here. They hop around the globe full time, working from their laptops. But constant travel may not be your thing. It could be exhausting if you’re not the on-the-go type. This is where workations come in. Technically you’re still working, but you’ll be working remotely. Meaning that as long as you complete the work, you can do whatever you want, wherever you want. Basically being a remote worker for a short period of time in a location that is not at home. 

remote working and workation

What are the benefits?

You may be wondering if this is worthwhile. Will you actually get any work done on ‘vacation’? The rising popularity with workations means it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Similarly to remote workers. The trend in working remotely may have started a few years ago but unlike other trends, it’s here to stay. With the rise in flexible companies, it’s estimated that remote workers will be 50% of the workforce by 2020. So why not join in?

Workation: a digital nomad test run 

As an alternative to a digital nomad, it’s a great way to dip your feet in the world of travel and work. For many, working from home is their preferred option. However, what if your home was in Spain? Rather than working from hotels and coworking spaces, having a home base that’s flexible cancels out the need for constant travel. Working from a location that’s refreshing and motivating stimulates your growth as a worker to get more done and bring new ideas to the table. 

Although if your key aim is to be able to travel and work remotely, aka a digital nomad, then it’s a great way to test the waters if this is truly the right step for you. Living a laptop lifestyle brings along its disadvantages as well. You may find that living from your suitcase is not as easy as you first thought. 

Flexible Living

The opportunity to work remotely gives you the opportunity to live flexibly. Why live in one place when the world is your oyster. Maybe you’re from Canada and would like to experience life on the coast of Spain. Then why not go on a workation. Finding a second home to live in for a month or more brings a sense of security that a hotel may not have. Plus you’ll save money. 

Nowadays there are different tools to help you with that. From companies specialized in remote workers retreats to GoGoPlaces, that helps you discover new places at very affordable prices. If you have the opportunity to spend around a month or more in a place, why not do it like a local? Try not to go to very touristy cities, instead, use your flexible living style to find out what the World has to offer. 

flexible living

With the rise of flexible working arrangements and the digital nomad trend, some countries are doing their best to attract this kind of tourism. Countries such as Portugal or Estonia are creating good systems of incentives to help foster the digital nomad community and, in case you still unsure about this lifestyle, why not start your workation from there? Plan ahead, find a house and maybe a coworking space – if you’re not used to working from home, that might be ideal! 

Flexible Working

Being able to work flexibly means working from wherever you please. Although in the past this was seen as the life of a freelancer, times have changed. Now with only 1 in 3 workers being freelancers, the opportunity to work remotely with a career is increasingly prevalent. There are also many advantages to flexible working; money-saving, more suited to your lifestyle and a reduced carbon footprint thanks to the lack of a work commute. 

workation - work and travel

You may already be working flexibly, with only a few days in the office a week. So the switch to fully flexible work isn’t far off. A study by Zenefits shows that 67% of small businesses offer some type of flexible work arrangements. The workforce is competitive, both with talent and companies, so finding competent employees that stay is becoming increasingly difficult. So it’s no surprise that smaller businesses are following in the footsteps of Amazon and Apple in providing remote roles and flexible work opportunities. 

Finding work specified to a remote workforce can be tricky. With the remote work trending pushing itself into the likes of sites such as LinkedIn – with their recent ‘choose remote’ feature. It’s no surprise people are looking for more concrete remote career options. To get there, however, it’s important to demonstrate the skills required to take on a remote role. With only a small percentage of applicants even being considered for a role it’s vital to present both soft and hard skills on your application. 

One of the key skills employers look out for is strong verbal and written communication skills. Which comes as no surprise, when as a remote worker, all forms of contact with your team will be carried out online. In the end, it’s important to back up all skills with examples otherwise your knowledge of how great your communication skills are presented in vain. Being aware of the essentials you’ll need as a remote worker, such as WiFi and stellar communication skills will pave the way for you to work remotely. 

Pack your bags!

Where to go for your workation?

Now that you understand a bit more about how to achieve this flexible lifestyle, the next step is to decide where to go and what to look for. First, think about a country that is affordable, since this is probably your first remote work experience, it’s good to start off by cutting on some expenses so you can understand how the digital nomad life doesn’t have to be for those already making a lot of money as remote workers. 

As we mentioned, Portugal can be a great option for your workation. New up and coming digital nomad hub in Europe, the country has a lot more to offer than just fast wifi. With amazing beaches, great food, friendly people and government incentives to entrepreneurship, many startups are moving their HQ’s to main cities like Lisbon or Porto, which has been attracting a young and skilled workforce. And Portugal still has a wide array of other great cities to live that combine the quality of life, the infrastructure you need to work on a high level and offer unique experiences by remaining as authentic as they’ve ever been. 

Portugal - azenhas do mar

Another great alternative is Estonia, the new digital nomad hub in Europe. Over the last few years, Estonia has embarked on massive technological innovation and it is really stepping into the future. It was the first country in the world to adopt online voting and today, almost all government services are managed online. It is definitely a very digitally advanced society. On top of that, the Estonian government has recently launched an e-Residency programme, a digital identity that enables digital entrepreneurs to establish and manage a trusted global company entirely online – no matter where you are in the world. Sounds good right? The program aims to create a new digital nation for global citizens and for that reason Estonia is definitely a country that should be on the top of your list when considering developing a remote career. 

estonia for digital nomads

Workation Pro Tip!

The next step is to consider is where you’re going to live for the next month or two. Differently from looking for hotels or an Airbnb for your summer vacation, looking for your workation home, where you’re going to work from (and possibly have a few work calls) needs to be focused on something other than being near a tourist spot or popular restaurant. For this, you need to research the wifi speed, maybe the proximity to a coworking space, whether or not you’ll have a space in the house that could serve as your office and much more that you could list that you currently enjoy on your workday that you might take for granted.