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Accordingly a recent article in the Washington Post, the phenomenon of “workcation” is on the rise. These hybrid work-play trips promise to combine the best parts of a productive work day with a relaxing vacation. A pitch “the best of both worlds” is always tempting – but what if it’s a total lie?

This is how a “workplace” should work: You open up in a new city and work remotely during the day, with evenings and weekends free for holiday activities. In theory, this gives you valuable flexibility that makes longer stays easier. But if you’re a workaholic (or your company is expected to be), you will likely find yourself sticking to your usual schedule – damn time differences – leaving less time for recreational activities than you imagined.

If you take your family on a business trip, they have plenty of time to explore their new surroundings – without you. “

In the meantime, you’re likely to get less done on the work side than you do at home, because let’s face it, chilling out by the pool with a book is a lot more fun than attending your third Zoom meeting of the day. It’s like deliberately planning a tropical vacation during hurricane season so you can stay indoors and work while your increasingly bored companions climb the walls.

This is why it is so amazing that workcations are being marketed to traveling families. I’m not a parent, but to me this seems like the worst use case. Sure, taking your family on a business trip will give them plenty of time to explore their new surroundings – without you. Not only is this a shame on your kids and spouse, who will likely want to hang out with you, but it also goes without saying that your spouse will be available for full-time child disputes to ease your plan to work full-time on vacation.

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Workcations are useful to your employer, not to you

If this sounds like the opposite of “the best of both worlds,” it’s because it is – but only for you. Employers love that shit. If you take time off, you will have to pay PTO and figure out how to cover your responsibilities; if you’re on a business trip they take the bill (or at least should). A “workplace” comfortably relieves them in both respects and gives them PR material: You can turn your trip as a “perk” for potential employees and at the same time prevent existing employees from actually taking a relaxing break, especially lower-ranking employees. Your direct reps might see you on Zoom and think, “Hell, if my boss is on vacation, I should probably be too.” (This is bad.)

If this sounds like the opposite of “the best of both worlds,” it’s because it is – but only to you. Employers love that shit.

Unsurprisingly, companies like AirBnB, Landing (which is basically AirBnB for apartment subletting and whose CEO is quoted in the Post article), and Blueground (the same, minus the quote) are also loving this trend. Convincing remote workers to uproot their lives for months increases the demand for off-hotel accommodations, driving up their ratings and allowing them to raise even more funding from private equity and / or venture capital firms – and that’s exactly what it’s really about. (Air BnB had sales of $ 3.4 billion last year and still received literally $ 1 billion in private equity from Sixth Street Partners and Silver Lake Partners in April 2020so clearly the strategy works.)

It is almost too much that the Washington Post, owned by a man who could, had a guide on never going on vacation sends itself into non-space because his employees are so afraid of being fired that they are piss in bottles, passed out and even die at work. In many ways, it is the culmination of nearly a century of crusade against things like “a living wage” and “occasionally not working.”

The Federal Labor Standards Act of 1938 set a minimum wage of US $ 7.25 and limited the standard work week to 40 hours, among other things. Of course, companies have spent the last 80 years successfully weakening the FLSA (and the unions that made it possible) so they can finally get back to 18-hour shifts for 12-year-olds. If you could bring John D. Rockefeller or the Gilded Age Copper Baron Marcus Daly back to life for a day, they would die of happiness the moment someone explained workcations. Expecting your employees to work on vacation without saying it outright – and somehow get them to say thank you for it! – is exactly the kind of genius they would have appreciated.

Offering better vacation benefits is expensive; It’s free to wash the concept of working around the clock into something that sounds cool. “

There are people for whom a “workcation” is plausible or even desirable – but They call it a “digital nomad”“And it’s more of a conscious, long-term lifestyle choice. The vast majority of workers fail and the bosses know it. But offering better vacation benefits is expensive; It’s free to wash the concept of working 24/7 into something that sounds cool. Don’t fall for it. You only have one life – don’t spend it working on vacation.