Working from home following the COVID-19 pandemic has become normal. Governments around the world have encouraged it, employees have embraced it and companies have seen that people can be trusted to work from home. The staycation has become the way to take a holiday, staying in your country whilst taking a holiday, so the obvious next stage is working whilst on vacation and boom, the workcation is born!!
Now, this is not a new concept, digital nomads have been doing this for years. They have used telecommunications technology to earn a living whilst enjoying their life in a nomadic manner who work remotely in coffee shops, co-working spaces, and beautiful locations around the world, meeting new people, getting inspired and being more productive.
Even traditional Japan is embracing workcation!
Even Japan is embracing the change and has pushed for this radical work style previously thought all but incompatible, last week it hit the headlines when Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga mentioned the term during a government tourism strategy meeting as a way to reinvigorate the pandemic-hit sector. Although largely an alien concept some companies have trialled this successfully in the last couple of years such as Japan Airlines, who are one of the pioneers of workcation. "The airline said it believed its introduction created the possibility of a more flexible work style, allowing employees to go on personal trips even if they had work meetings scheduled in the middle of their itinerary" according to an internal affairs ministry report.
The Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) has been looking at workcations as a way to stagger demand for travel. Many people in Japan tend to go on trips at specific times of the year,
such as summer or year-end holidays which causes soaring ticket prices. Some say that the workcation has less to do with promoting tourism than having a more flexible work style, although I think everyone will agree that peer pressure to work at the office and scepticism toward homeworking suggest there it has a long way to go before such a practice can take hold in Japan. For better or worse by encouraging travel on weekdays instead of traditional holidays, the JTA's initiative due to the coronavirus has gained momentum and allowed many to work remotely and enjoy a taste of weekdays away from the office. Traditionally frowned upon it now is looked at in a much better light with the public as the busy weekend crowds can be avoided that way, further making the idea of workcation more acceptable.
Workcations though are unlikely to take off immediately in Japan. To begin with, it may only be freelancers & corporate executives who have the opportunity to work this way where workcations mean that employees work from anywhere they wish, on their own, not tied to a desk 9-5, even more, extreme than working from home and this will be hard for the traditional Japanese company to embrace. There are also many labour questions such as insurance (who covers any injuries incurred), travel expenses or whether employees should use their paid holidays to adopt such a working style.
Is workcation for everyone?
I am not sure if a workcation works for everyone however personally I have worked this way my whole working life, in fact, I have made sure that my business allowed for me to work this way. From being a professional jockey to owning a travel & events company to resort properties I have managed to travel around the world whilst working. I now live in Hong Kong and as we speak I am writing this from the beach where I live on a workcation, if I had a choice I would be in Hokkaido, Japan staying at our project SnowDog Village doing the same there where we have highspeed internet in each apartment, however with this pandemic I am unable to travel so we need to be flexible and this is exactly what this unprecedented situation has brought us to. So people, companies & governments need to embrace how the work style has changed, and those who do will thrive.
So the question is if you had a choice of working for a company with a policy for employees to work behind a desk, day in day out, in the same office, or for a company that allowed you the freedom to choose where you can mix work & vacations, that governed success by results not time in the office - where would you choose? This applies for business owners too, at the end of the day all we want is productive, inspired and happy employees - so maybe workcations are the answer!!
Whatever the future holds the seed has been sown and workcations I feel are here to stay and for one, I embrace them!
My name is Jo Lodder and I am Managing Partner of JNW Properties in Hong Kong. We market and sell our own developments in Niseko which include SnowDog Village, SnowDog Chalets and the famous Raku Ichi Residences. I have a passion for exploring, and especially like to hike the mountains of Niseko in the summer, where I also love to ski in the winter, famed for its fluffy champagne snow. White days in February, so cold, but that amazing powder that's JAPOW!! If you are interested in joining our newsletter, finding out about investing in Niseko or are just interested to hear more please click here and fill in the landing page.