Travelling during the pandemic has been rife with ups and downs. But there’s one trend that seems to stay on the up: the “workcation.”
More Canadians have been extending trips by a few days, or even weeks, by logging into the office virtually for a portion of their trip.
An October, 2021, survey conducted by Canadian adventure travel company G Adventures found that more than 30 per cent of people plan to combine work with travel in the future, up from 18 per cent in December, 2020. New workplace norms coming out of the pandemic are helping fuel the trend with 20 per cent of Canadian respondents saying the ability to now work from anywhere is making a workcation a serious consideration when it comes to planning a holiday.
Taylor Bond, a 30-year-old working in the tech startup space, just accepted a job offer with an employer that will let him work remotely. An avid skier, he plans to put the concept of the “workcation” to use by spending extended time in British Columbia through the winter, hitting the slopes of Whistler and Fernie after he has logged out for the day. “I feel like I am more productive when I get fresh air and exercise,” says Bond. “I am also more motivated to work harder and smarter when I have something to look forward to at the end of the day.”
Jakki Prince, a full-service travel concierge and the CEO (chief epic officer) at Prince Adventures, a boutique luxury travel agency, says she is fielding many inquires for this type of trip. With changing restrictions, rules and additional costs for things such as PCR testing, her clients feel it’s a better value proposition to go away for longer.
“It’s not just about the additional costs of testing and potential quarantines,” she says. “People are now factoring in the increased hassles, both perceived and real, when it comes to planning a trip around COVID. Going away for longer makes it worth a few extra hurdles.”
It’s important when planning a workcation to consider the time zone of a potential destination to ensure it’s compatible with work obligations, Prince advises. She also cautions that all members of the travelling party or family should be on board with the plan to be away for the extended time, with the understanding that circumstances can change. She had two families cut short their time in Barbados last spring when the teenaged children were informed midtrip that in-person classes had resumed at their school. They preferred the idea of seeing their friends in person over another day of remote learning, even if it was capped off with a stunning sunset and mocktail.
Destinations and their accommodation partners are keenly aware that to capitalize on this growing trend, they need to have the right technology infrastructure in place. Shortly after the pandemic started Saint Lucia developed their “Live It” program to help visitors work while on holiday. A key component of the program is free wi-fi at all of the island’s hotels, villas and public venues.
Sunwing, meanwhile, is marking its second pandemic winter season by offering Canadians “the ultimate beachfront office upgrade” with deals on stays of 14, 21 or 28 days at some of their Royalton All-In Luxury resorts in Negril, Jamaica; Cancun, Mexico; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. In addition to the usual trappings, the all-inclusive package includes complimentary access to the resort’s business centre, all-in connectivity including resort-wide wi-fi, portable power banks and complimentary 24-hour access to the resort’s Diamond Club Lounge.
The cost benefit for resorts and destinations is clear. Megan Kennedy, head of the country office for Selina, a global accommodations provider in Costa Rica, says they are experiencing an increase in the number of guests from all over the world who are coming to work remotely from Costa Rican soil. “We are amplifying the speed of the internet, creating more private places for work calls, as well as coworking areas. The benefit for Costa Rica is obvious … because people are contributing to the economy while continuing to work,” she said.
Prince believes this trend will continue, but its longevity will depend on how employers manage their return-to-the-office policies. It also seems likely this will be a trend reserved for demographic groups who can more easily be away for extended times, such as people without kids or families with young children, versus those with school-aged kids, who, ideally, are required on school grounds.
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