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Workation, New Work & Co.

It used to be mostly programmers who went surfing in the Algarve in the morning and hacked into their keyboards in the evening #digitalnomads. Now we see them everywhere: the privileged, Air Pod-wearing t3n readers with laptops on their laps and feet in the pool. If they ain’t attending the OMR Festival, they're on Workcation: Whether Bali, Thailand, the Canary Islands, Mallorca or right in the camper van - it's a hype!

At the same time, there’s lots of verbiage when it comes to what exactly New Work is.

We create clarity:

Workcation: Workcation, as the name suggests, refers to the merging of work and vacation. This is triggered by the option to work remotely and offers various advantages: such as flexibility, additional motivation and the option to take time off due to less urgent obligations - after all, it is still a vacation.

New Work: New Work describes today's working world, which has changed due to digitalization, globalization and younger generations. For many, the resulting departure not only means a departure in the mindset itself, for example in the form of more sustainable ways of working with the goal of change. It also opens new working methods, such as home offices and the afore mentioned Workcation.

Our Bottom Line:

New Work is so much more than just flexibility of place or time while working. It's about focusing on the individuals with all their needs and creating a work environment that promotes - but also demands - self-determination and opportunities for co-determination.

New Work may require upgrading the appropriate IT infrastructure, designing interactive office spaces or rewriting employment contracts to make hybrid working possible and efficient, but above all, New Work demands a change in mindset and work culture from all of us. Foosball tables and working under a parasol won't work when expectation management, communication and collaboration don't grow with it.

It is highly desirable to integrate balance, mindfulness and purpose into everyday work. But this only happens when shared values connect and intrinsic motivation is high: Then innovation happens at lunch and real progress happens together on the folding table in the van.

However, if there is a lack of intrinsic motivation, the home office day becomes a Netflix marathon, and the workstation becomes sunbathing with the laptop open. No amount of trust will help.

Focus on motivation, not on control.

If the personal values and goals contribute to the common ones, you create a lever of intrinsic motivation that cannot be surpassed. The employees will then use their strengths for the company and you as a company do not need to run after any trends and simply use tools / methods because others are doing it.

Look at where you stand as a company, what really suits you and what is the objective. An embarrassing "recall" or even threat like Elon Musk's recent announcement that "whoever doesn't come to the office 40 hours a week has to go" (Spiegel, 06/22) should thus be avoided.

Cawa Younosi, Global Head of People Experience at SAP and "HR Influencer", comments on this: If you insult your employer at home, you'll do the same at the office. [...]. Remember: #Trust is the better control!

We Birchies also rely on trust!

We work completely hybrid and leave it up to each colleague to decide how and from where they work best – as long as the performance towards our customers and the balance for teaming works. Of course there is no blueprint and we are in a constant process of reflection and learning. Currently, we are doing very well with this approach.

And what else: Some of our colleagues have already been on Workcation! We have compiled all the lessons learned so far for you, so that your Workcation will be a complete success!

Keep in mind: Whether this is possible for you is still determined by the laws and your employers, so please make sure that everything is above board before you take your backpacks out of the attic.

Our tips and tricks:

Destination & Accommodation Of course, working under lemon trees outside or on the beach is appealing. The reality is often not so simple: Recognizing something on the screen in the sunshine? Damn hard! Most laptop batteries won't last an 8-hour day and iPhones report heat warnings. Sand, water and sunscreen have never been tech gadgets' best friends. So, if you want to actually get work done during those days, make sure you have the following:

  • Sufficient indoor workspace, at best in a light-flooded nice shelter and sufficiently large tables. A tent with a wobbly camp table is no equipment for concentrated work. Unfortunately, that's the way it is.

  • If you do want to work outside, choose a destination with moderate weather and pleasant outdoor temperatures. Sun protection and a roof are a must-have.

  • Look for "fixed" accommodation. This can also mean a van. Remember, everything where you have to squeeze all your junk back into your backpack every 2 days and must find Wi-Fi, sockets etc. at the next place, costs time and nerves. Bye bye island hopping.

  • If you are not travelling alone: Look for an accommodation with separate rooms, so that you are not annoyed and disturbed by the conversations of your travel buddies.

  • Make sure that the accommodations are not necessarily located on a noisy street. Preferably not directly above a pub, which has happy hour from 3pm. Noise cancelling headphones never hurt! Speaking of...

Technology & Equipment

No matter how great the accommodation is - try to break away a little from the habits of the past years and bring openness to the new environment, because you can't expect to work the same way as from home. A few standards you can secure beforehand:

IMPORTANT: Nothing works without a decent WIFI connection. Surely you know this since your last business trip on the ICE. Therefore, it is best to ask your future hosts to send a screenshot of the speed test before you make a firm booking.

  • When booking, ask whether there are outdoor sockets. If not, we are at the next point:

  • Extension cord / multiple sockets and power bank! No matter where the tables that you want to work are - Don't assume your cell phone/laptop charger will reach there from the outlet.

  • An absolute must-have for us, but this of course is up to everyone’s preference: A coffee maker 😉

Fellow human beings To us, it is essential to manage all expectations at this point.

  • Your own: You will not work exactly as you do at home. For a fact! You may be more relaxed, or less relaxed. It could be that you get into the creative flow or that you're just stressed out chasing the signal bar. You simply don't know beforehand. Don't put yourself under pressure that everything has to be exactly the same as usual.

  • The expectations of your colleagues and clients: Of course, it's nice to extend the lunch blocker by an hour to jump into the pool but block these appointments on time in your calendar and communicate if necessary that you will manage less than usual or that you can only be reached by phone in the evening but will no longer work on the laptop. It would be stupid to disappoint customers or colleagues who thought they could reach you as usual or still expect concepts from you overnight, when this is not the case. Then suddenly a lot of things stand in the way of the next Workcation - even if it is your boss.

  • The expectations of your fellow travelers: In the best case, they are working as well.

Anything else, depending on the character, creates an extreme FOMO effect: Fear of Missing Out. The others are at the beach, talking about the amazing waves in the evening? You don't want to have this conversation when you've spent hours of tedious budget negotiations today.

Inform fellow travelers from the beginning about what you need and how many hours you expect to spend working or on calls. Find a common rhythm and coordinate your best efforts: When multiple people make video calls at the same time, it will most likely kill even the strongest Airbnb Wi-Fi connection.

Best case from my own experience: A colleague with whom you are working on the same project! This way you probably have similar needs and can (finally) discuss and develop solutions in person again. Janine and Lena are already packing their bags again 😊

Work & Tasks

The structure of the workday should at least adapt a little to the new circumstances:

  • Try to not overload your calendar with as many appointments as usual. Latest by 5pm, while the others are on the beach popping champaign bottles, it is simply no longer fun. A work meeting at 6pm? Don’t accept it in the first place and suggest another time.

  • Try to start early. Especially if your fellow travelers don't work, they'll just sleep anyway while you'll have time get something done and then have breakfast together.

  • In general, try to keep the number of video calls to a minimum. On the one hand, you'll be annoyed for half the day if the WLAN doesn't deliver as promised. On the other hand: You are in wonderful surroundings! Take advantage of the inspiration, serenity and other impressions to tackle creative work.

  • At the same time do not underestimate: The beautiful, drizzly summer in Germany often does not correspond to that of other destinations (fortunately 😀). Your creative thoughts should neither freeze nor melt away under the influence of temperature. We all know it: With a large part of the air conditioning systems, there is only off or ice age mode. Therefore: It's better to finish the important customer presentation first and do the live panel discussion in front of 100 people another week.

  • Don't take on too much. Every activity takes time to prepare and is effort. Climbing the mountain in the morning and snorkeling during lunch break? Oh yeah and still squeeze in 4 hours of work in between? Forget it! Way too stressful! The idea of a workstation is partly romanticized and hyped way too much, because you forget that your energy is also limited and to come out of the workstation with a burnout just to do New Work would tick too many buzzwords at once.

The 55Birchstreet Team wishes you lots of fun, rest, inspiration and after all – a great trip! 🧳


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