'Workcations' are no substitute for a real vacation, which should be a time to rest

  • Global
  • Thursday, 17 Mar 2022

A new study noted that a ‘workcation’ isn’t suitable for folks who truly need a vacation. — Expedia

You might have already guessed it, but it’s now confirmed that a “workcation” isn’t the best thing for most workers. In fact, it could make you feel even more vacation deprived.

A new study by Expedia revealed that pandemic-era flexible work arrangements can make it more difficult to unplug.

Workcation, a trend brought about by new working arrangements amid Covid-19, lets workers travel to other destinations and work remotely.

However, the annual Vacation Deprivation study by Expedia noted that the trend is more detrimental than beneficial.

“Despite the nearly universal belief that regular vacations are critical to our health and wellbeing, the research shows we struggle to fully unplug from work,” said Expedia senior PR manager Christie Hudson in a release.

According to Hudson, many people can’t really disconnect from work despite being in a new destination.

“Instead, we try and do it all –checking email from the pool and taking work calls while out of the office. This study is a reminder that vacations should be a time to rest, recharge and prioritise the things that really matter,” she said, adding that work can always wait.

The Vacation Deprivation study surveyed more than 14,500 working adults from 16 countries across North and South America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

What’s alarming is that vacation deprivation levels have soared while burnout is at an all-time high amid Covid-19.

Nearly three-fifths (58%) of people worldwide reported feeling vacation deprived in 2021 and three-in-four felt more burned out due to the stress of the pandemic.

On average, women, younger generations (such as Gen Z and millennials), and essential employees like frontline workers are more vacation deprived than their counterparts.

The study also noted that on average, people globally took 18 vacation days last year. Of those surveyed, 40% left their vacation days unused.

Overall, those that received the fewest vacation days from their employers seemed to leave more on the table.

More harm than good

The study’s most striking finding, though, is the debunking of the workcation trend.

“Pandemic-era flexible work arrangements are making it challenging for people to separate their lives while on and of the clock,” said Expedia in the report.

“Although many were able to take advantage of this flexibility by taking a workcation, they don’t believe this type of travel-as-you-work structure provides the benefits they typically seek from a ‘real’ vacation, such as the ability to truly unplug, relax, and recharge,” Expedia added.

Detractors have long pointed out that workcation is not a vacation. This is because you’ll still need to bring work with you, instead of unwinding.

Sojrn founder Tara Cappel said workcations are not a good substitute for leisure time.

Sojrn is a work and travel programme for remote working professionals.

“I definitely don’t see this work-from-abroad (setup) as a replacement for vacation,” Cappel said in an interview.

She added that workcations are not real vacations.

“I do think the term workcation gets broadly applied, which makes it confusing to understand what we’re talking about, because if you’re working full-time, but just from a different location, there’s nothing ‘vacation’ about that,” Cappel said.

The workcation trend might have also contributed to some detrimental holiday practises, Expedia noted in the study.

Some of these bad holiday practices are: Bringing work laptops, frequently joining Zoom calls and leaving personal contact numbers in out-of-office emails.

“This struggle to balance work and life along with the sometimes-unforgiving relationship to productivity has enabled a few bad vacation habits that need to be broken,” said Expedia.

The annual Vacation Deprivation study which examines the work-life balance of people worldwide is currently in its 22nd year.

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