Remote work and vacation. Is it more fun together?
This year turned all plans upside down. Closed borders, a lockdown, and then a long-drawn-out retirement …
By November, when the first news of the cancellation of the New Year celebrations appeared, it became clear that no one would be sent back to the offices in the coming months. And already at the beginning of December, some of the remote workers were drawn to “wintering” where it is more interesting. On New Year’s holidays, the number of people wishing to leave their usual surroundings, and then stay for a week or two on a trip, combining this with work, will grow many times over. But before you join them, we want to share our experience.
It is possible to combine work with rest, but you need to take care of maintaining balance. We have in our piggy bank many examples of quite successful work from different locations. But I want to build this story on the basis of one bad experience. Honestly, working with experienced remote workers, we searched for him in the team for a long time to make the story clearer.
Although we changed the participant’s name for privacy reasons, everything is based on real events.
No vacation, no work
Vasily planned to go with his wife to Crimea in the summer for about a month, spending only two weeks of vacation on it. It so happened that in the immediate environment of the couple there was a friendly company of remote workers with children and pets, which supported the idea and decided to go with them.
Since there were a lot of people, housing and logistics issues were solved centrally and without Vasily’s participation. It was much more profitable in terms of money. Plus, it didn’t require any planning effort from our hero. Agree, it is convenient when you just need to agree with the photos of the rented housing, without going into details.
The first couple of weeks after moving to Sevastopol, the whole company lived in a mediocre boarding house. At this time, Vasily and his wife took full-fledged vacations to explore the surroundings, so the boarding house itself can be said and not seen. The planned trips across almost the entire peninsula by car were fully implemented.
But further it was necessary to work. The remote workers moved to a rented house in Yalta, where (as it was assumed at the stage of the search) there should have been equipped workplaces in the required quantity and normal access to the Internet, which would be enough for everyone. Unfortunately, the owners of the house have slightly embellished the amenities. Looking ahead, we note that in the situation that I met the remote workers in reality, it did not work to establish a working atmosphere.
It turned out that the workspace on the ground floor did not accommodate as many people as we wanted – the seats at the tables were constantly occupied. And in his own room there was no concentration. A huge and rather expensive house with a swimming pool was not equipped with air conditioning in the bedrooms. Because of the summer stuffiness, I had to sit with open doors and windows, thus sharing the space not only with remote colleagues, but also with their children and pets. The noise was enchanting. Try to concentrate or make a call in such an environment!
But the biggest problem was the internet. The connected canal was not enough for the working needs of the entire moving company. At the same time, the house was located in the foothills, so it was not possible to use the mobile network (regardless of the cost of mobile Internet in Crimea).
After trying for several days to work from a shared rented house, Vasily began to look for an alternative. It was already too expensive to check out the hotel – at the peak of the season there are no vacant rooms “for today”, and even with a workplace and the Internet, it is impossible to find. There were no coworking spaces or offices for short-term rent in Yalta. There are no chain cafes like McDonald’s. And in local eateries, Wi-Fi is far from the most important option (according to the owners of the establishments). And there is no less noise than in a rented house.
The story ended with the fact that on the very next weekend Vasily interrupted his “vacation” and went home. A working draft was not waiting for him, and it was impossible to continue to carry out his duties from a rented house. By the way, during this “trial” week, it really didn’t work out for a walk around the city in the evenings. The house was too far from the center. The result is no work, no vacation.
As Vasily later said in Maxilekt’s internal chat, the main mistake was to entrust the organization of the process to others. They neglected their own work. But they themselves were probably able to postpone projects or somehow focus only on the most important thing. But Vasily did not manage to fit into these other people’s conditions. It is good luck that he and his wife arrived in their own car, so they could change plans without losing tickets and time.
How not to repeat this experience
Note that you need to rest fully. Sometimes everyone needs at least a few days of complete disconnection from work chats and the logistics associated with organizing access to them. But if you do take your work with you:
Select a region (district, settlement) where there is already a developed infrastructure – communications, public spaces, choice of hotels. Or take all the infrastructure you need with you. Our team has a wide experience of working from different locations. Among other things, there were even experiments on working from the island without electricity and from the Far North directly from the car (by fitting it under a cell tower and using it as a generator to charge a laptop). Everything works out great if you think over every little thing. But you have to think in advance, not on the spot.
Plan everything yourself – do not trust travel agencies, acquaintances or anyone else, as they are likely to focus on the “vacation” component. Many people simply do not yet have the experience of making plans for remote work. You can use intermediaries, but you need to formulate requirements for them and control their implementation yourself. Only you know exactly what conditions need to be created in order to work effectively. Over long distances, this is not just “mobile internet and somehow I’ll sit right on the bed.”
For telecommuting, communication is critical. Speak all the details in advance. Accommodations often embellish the quality of the connection, assuming that guests will simply upload photos to Instagram, and correspond in Vkontakte, and therefore will not complain. Hotels can write about “Internet throughout the territory”, meaning only the area around the pool, but not the rooms. The private sector may refer to “internet access” to mean only what you “catch” with your smartphone. Insure yourself against unpleasant surprises – find out all the details in advance before booking. Coverage maps of wireless carriers will help you (but they can also be wrong).
Work out escape routes. Check where you can stay nearby with your laptop in case of any emergency situations – cafes, anti-cafes, coworking spaces, offices for rent, etc. In recent years, some libraries have started a second life as coworking spaces. Sometimes decent internet access can be found in malls or public areas, even on the street in warm regions.
Plan the separation of vacation and work. Do not picture in your head that you will go skiing with your laptop or sit in a restaurant. Everything takes time. Eating in the middle of the day is time, getting to the sights is time, rolling down the mountain – … you get the idea. Do not overload yourself with activities in order to “have time for everything in the evenings”. Don’t expect to “go down that mountain 20 km from the hotel quickly for lunch”. When you have commitments to other people, keep them in mind in your plans and allow for contingencies.
Give yourself time after your arrival to explore the surrounding area. It will be much easier for you to concentrate if you do not start working immediately after a flight or car haul, but after a few days, having already settled in a new place and “satisfying the first hunger” of the sea, mountains or sights (depending on what you came for) …
We believe it is best to alert your telecommuters that you are changing locations. Perhaps your productivity will not change and the movement on the task will not be reflected in any way. But on trips, there are abnormal situations, for example, due to a thunderstorm, the mobile Internet, which you were counting on, will temporarily turn off. Better to warn that the response timeout may be exceeded.
And good luck on the road!
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