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Taking a "workcation" in 2016...

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Even though I can’t call dibs on this clever portmanteau, and I hadn’t yet read anything about what a “workcation” really is, the word suddenly came to me during a conversation with a coworker.

We were catching up about our daily work and sharing tips on what we could do better, such as planning every detail for the long term. Sure, we have a lot of planning meetings, content calendars and other goals in place, but we were talking more about special projects that we would love to develop and ideas that haven’t been done before.

“It’s almost like I need two weeks of vacation to work on all these amazing things that I want to do … like a ‘workcation’ where I don’t have to be on top of email or the other daily tasks,” I said to my coworker.

Her eyes widened: “Oh my gosh, that should be a company benefit! You get two weeks ‘off’ to work on special projects. That would be amazing!” I agreed.

Innovation doesn’t happen in a split second. It can take years of planning, patience and persistence to make it happen. If we don’t take a few seconds to reflect on what we are doing, how we can do it better, where we are going, and how can we get there faster, and get our noses out of our social media and smartphones, how can we truly innovate?

Right now, we take time out of our very schedules to plan for new, relevant and engaging content. But there should also be time allotted for cool project planning for the coming year.

How would it work?

I am, in no way, shape or form, a human resources person or a benefits planner. But in essence, you could set aside two weeks of your year to work on future projects that have been previously approved. Those two weeks could also be used to organize or coordinate said projects.

Your inbox would be taken care of, and you should only be contacted if an emergency arises. Your daily tasks would be assigned to whomever usually covers your vacation time. Any work that you had scheduled for those two weeks, you would have to hand-in before you “leave” for your workcation.

Ideally, you would receive the two weeks at the end of the year to make this “workcation” real. Or it should be done during the time of the year when you tend to have the least amount of work. For businesses that have a constant flow of work, note when that work slows down each season and when it makes sense for you to take a “break” to plan.

What is a “real” workcation?

After doing some research online, I found a few articles in The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money and The Muse that address this topic. These writers explain that some employees already check their email or work during their vacations, thus choosing to work remotely from that exotic spot and not have those days count against their actual days off. And while the employees might not be touring the exotic location during the day, a workcation still offers them the ability to have a change of pace, get out of the office, and tour after business hours.

Of course, a workcation doesn’t come without some pros and cons, according to some HR experts interviewed by the different media. For example, maybe the company doesn’t allow for flexible work times or the job itself can’t be done remotely.

The experts also discussed their concern that employees might not take any real time off to disconnect, by choosing to work during their vacation and then burn out. Thus, the catch-22: “Is the workcation detracting from the vacation you were going to have, or is it enabling the vacation you otherwise wouldn’t have had?” asks Kenneth Matos, senior director of research at the Families and Work Institute in the WSJ article.

Some companies are already allowing a certain amount of time, say about a month, to work remotely. (We published a related article last year with 12 cool and unusual company benefits).

We will definitely continue to see this trend expand to different industries as more millennials and young adults join the workforce and demand flexible working hours and locations.

See also:

Why American workers don’t take vacation

9 tech tools to increase productivity

Top 5 concerns among business owners

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