From Offices to Beaches: The Rise of Workations and Digital Nomads

29/09/2023

Imagine working from a tropical paradise, with a view of the blue sea while you tackle your daily tasks

This is the new reality for a growing number of workers who have embraced the concept of workations and joined the tribe of digital nomads. In a world where remote work has become the norm, the traditional office space is losing its appeal. People are seeking freedom and flexibility, and they are finding it in the form of workations and digital nomadism. Who are these modern-day adventurers, what are the differences between them, and what challenges and benefits to they face?

Workations: Where Work Meets Vacation

As the name suggests, workations combine work and vacation into one immersive experience. Picture yourself working remotely from a luxurious villa overlooking a breathtaking landscape or nestled in a cozy cabin in the mountains. Workations allow individuals to escape the monotony of the office environment and inject a sense of adventure and relaxation into their work lives.

Both involve work, travel, and a good dose of adventure. But here’s the key difference: while digital nomads tend to lead a more nomadic lifestyle, perpetually on the move and calling the entire world their office, workations are more like temporary periods of time spent working somewhere other than the regular office. 

Digital Nomads: Roaming the World While Earning a Living

Digital nomads take the concept of remote work to the next level. They embrace a nomadic lifestyle, often traveling to different countries and continents while earning a living through their online work. Digital nomads leverage technology to stay connected, work from anywhere – think Slack Teams, Trello and the rest- and explore the world at the same time.  With a laptop and a stable internet connection, they become citizens of the world, adapting to new cultures, languages, and environments.

Anonymous digital nomad: "I started my online business at 51 years old. I started to make enough money and a year later I hit the road and live the digital nomad life. Now I am 59 and still traveling. I never run into anyone else my age living this life." (Source: Facebook Digital Nomads group).

Key Differences: Workations vs. Digital Nomadism

While both workations and digital nomadism offer freedom and flexibility, there are distinct differences between the two.

Duration and Purpose:

Workations are typically shorter in duration, ranging from a few days to a few weeks. They serve as a temporary escape from the routine, providing a refreshing change of scenery while keeping productivity intact. Workation scenarios include:

  • Adding a week or more at the end of your family holiday where you switch to working and your family continue enjoying the beach – not a bad way to make the most of the summer holidays.
  • A month off on a long-haul adventure to an exotic destination.
  • An extended stay with family or friends who’ve moved abroad.

Digital nomadism, on the other hand, is a long-term lifestyle choice. It involves continuous travel and a greater commitment to exploring different locations while maintaining a sustainable work-life balance.  Basically, you live and work in a country other than the one you usually live and work from, and you will keep moving on a regular basis to new destinations. 

Destination Selection:

Workations often revolve around popular tourist destinations, providing a balance between work and leisure activities. Digital nomads, however, tend to seek out destinations that offer a lower cost of living, access to reliable internet, and a vibrant community of like-minded individuals.  Some countries like Portugal offer remote working visas that allow you to live in a country as a normal resident while you work remotely.  Although Switzerland does not have a specific digital nomad visa, innovative offers are popping up, like the one in the small mountain village of Lenk in the Bernese Oberland.  Accommodation and workspaces are offered at attractive prices during the low-season for this tourist destination.  Idea for workationers and nomads as well as the local economy. 

Embracing the Challenges 

Despite the undeniable allure of the digital nomad lifestyle, it does come with its fair share of challenges. Maintaining work-life boundaries can be difficult when your office is just a few steps away from your living quarters. Moreover, navigating the legal and social aspects of working in foreign countries can be daunting and complicated. Managing their finances and planning for the future, as well as finding the next destination or the next work gig are some of the topics that keep nomads awake at night.  

Digital nomads often grapple with isolation, navigating, as they do, new environments and maintaining a social life across time zones.   As one member of the Digital Nomads Facebook group expressed: “I am feeling so isolated that I have lost my ability to talk to people”.  However, the digital nomad community is quick to offer support, sharing advice on social events, networking, accommodation and more. 

Persuading a boss that taking a workation is feasible might be a challenge, but with the switch to remote working that has taken place post-pandemic, management is more likely to be open to the idea.  There is the need to prove that work can be done away from the office and show that it won’t affect productivity. 

Relishing the Benefits

Despite the above challenges, workations and digital nomadism offer numerous benefits. The freedom to work from anywhere allows individuals to escape the constraints of a traditional office environment, resulting in increased motivation and creativity. Exploring new cultures and environments can foster personal growth and broaden horizons. Workations and digital nomadism also enable individuals to build a global network of like-minded professionals, leading to valuable collaborations and new opportunities. 

Peter Nieuwenhuijs, Dutch digital nomad living in Nicaragua: "I Left the “security” of the Netherlands for the ”insecurity” but adventurous life of a country in Central America. Not one day of regret.” (Source: Facebook Digital Nomads group).

Tips from the Digital Nomad Community

The nomad community offers valuable insights into improving finances and adapting to a nomadic lifestyle. Members stress the importance of budgeting, cutting back on unnecessary expenses and embracing minimalism.  As one seasoned digital nomad shared: “Being a digital nomad taught me to be a minimalist.  The sooner I realized the benefits of becoming one, the more money I saved and the less hassle I had digging through my possessions”.  

In addition, digital nomads recommend learning bankable remote work skills, such as copywriting, content creation, videography, and design. These skills not only increase earning potential but also serve as a foundation for a successful nomad life.  

The Role of Salary Portal Companies in Empowering Workations and Swiss Digital Nomads

Most workations are relatively short stints in another country, supported by the worker’s regular employer: it is, in most cases, not necessary to seek special arrangements for salary and social contribution payments in Switzerland.  If the workation were to last over a longer period of time, and depending on the destination, then provision for work permits and taxation would be required. 

Digital nomads who spend the majority of their working life away from Switzerland, will want to make sure they are covered to work legally at their chosen destination and that they continue to pay into pensions and other social charges.  

Enter the Salary Portal or Payrolling company.  Companies such as The Business Harbour, have recognized the value of providing comprehensive support for digital nomads and workationers, and offer a range of services that cater to the unique needs of these modern workers. Here’s how salary portal companies can help:

  • Seamless Payments: Salary portal companies provide digital payment solutions that facilitate easy and secure transactions across borders. They offer multiple currency options and ensure timely payments, eliminating the hassle of dealing with complex international banking processes
  • Compliance and Taxation: Navigating tax obligations and compliance requirements can be challenging, especially for digital nomads who work in and across different countries. Salary portals simplify this process by handling tax deductions, ensuring compliance with local regulations, and providing accurate financial reports which can be very helpful when dealing with visa requirements 
  • Expense Management: Workations and digital nomadism involve travel and diverse expenses. Salary portal platforms offer tools for managing expenses, tracking reimbursements, and generating detailed expense reports. This streamlines financial management and makes it easier for workers to stay organized while on the move
  • Retirement and Insurance: Planning for the future is important, even for those who have embraced a nomadic lifestyle. Salary portal companies offer retirement plans and insurance options tailored to the needs of remote workers. These benefits provide a sense of security and stability, regardless of the ever-changing location

Workations and digital nomadism are further changing  the way we work and live, blending professional commitments with the desire for adventure and exploration. These modern work styles offer freedom, flexibility, and a chance to break free from the confines of traditional office spaces. While workations provide temporary escapes, digital nomadism offers a long-term travelling lifestyle with endless possibilities. Both come with their own set of challenges, but the benefits far outweigh the obstacles.

In this evolving landscape, salary portal companies play a vital role in empowering workations and digital nomads. Through their services, these platforms simplify financial management, ensure compliance and keep nomads in touch with their base. With the support of these services, workation enthusiasts and digital nomads can thrive, finding the balance between work and life, all while embracing adventure and possibilities. 

So, if you’re feeling the itch to escape the traditional office walls and embark on a journey of remote work and adventure, consider workations or digital nomadism. Pack your laptop, embrace the freedom, and let your professional dreams unfold against the backdrop of wonderful landscapes and new cultural experiences. The world is your office, and the possibilities are endless! Call The Business Harbour to find out how you can embark on your journey!

Anonymous digital nomad: “My days are never routine, never end as planned. But they start with a coffee as I say hello to the sea and Spain through my window, then work on my laptop with breakfast. I am 61. ” (Source: Facebook Digital Nomads group).

Article by Antonina Marenco

Contact-us: The Business Harbour – Tel : +41 22 908 02 45

Author

Antonina Marenco

Social & Communication Manager. Highly experienced multilingual Marketing professional with extensive experience in corporate and content strategies and writing

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