Work Hard, Vacation Smart: The Allure of Corporate Workcations

By Rob Whalen - Jun 22, 2023 10:17:17 AM - 7 MINS READ

The nature of work has drastically changed over the last few years. If you once worked in an office five days a week, you may work from home or on a hybrid schedule now. You don't see your coworkers as often as you once did, and most of your interactions with them are probably over Slack or Zoom. 

Employers are taking note of these workplace changes and their impact on overall employee productivity, engagement, and culture. These changes have prompted companies to create a solution to this problem—corporate workcations. Corporate workcations not only give remote employees a chance to have some face time with their coworkers, but they can be a powerful tool for realigning a company's culture and rekindling trust in leadership. 

Here's what you need to know about a corporate workcation and why it's worth investing in. 

What is a corporate workcation?

Corporate workcations aren't anything new; we're all very familiar with the concept but under a different name: corporate retreats. The core concept is the same: groups of employees go on a working vacation together, blending business with pleasure. So instead of coming together in a conference room in Cincinnati, you're working poolside in Cabo. 

Companies can use corporate workcations to collaborate and strategize on upcoming initiatives or as a chance for remote employers to bond with their coworkers face-to-face. With corporate workcations, you're not entirely on vacation but not fully working either. Your days look like strategizing or attending workshops in the morning and then time spent by the pool or doing an activity in the afternoon. You get the chance to both work and play.  

Why a corporate workcation?

Corporate workcations have grown in popularity over the last few years to solve one main problem: employee engagement. Employee engagement is something U.S. workers and organizations have been struggling with since the pandemic started. In fact, the lack of engagement costs the global economy $8.1 trillion annually. 

The closing of offices and the shift to remote work hasn't helped either; employees have felt more isolated and detached and have longed for a sense of team. According to Microsoft's Work Trends Index, over 40% of employees report feeling disconnected from their company, and roughly half say their relationships outside their immediate work group have weakened since the pandemic. Most employees only interact with their colleagues in transactional settings. With remote work, there are no office happy hours or mixers, making getting to know colleagues in a non-work environment much harder. 

Corporate workcations are an opportunity to bring remote workers together to create camaraderie. Workers can meet their colleagues and bond with their team members offline. They can experience their coworkers as people first and build social connections with them to build trust, break down siloes, and build the foundation for more productive collaborations.  

Additionally, corporate workcations can help organizations foster or rekindle trust in leadership, as only 21% of American workers trust the leaders of their organizations. This is a drop from 24% in 2019. Organizations have the chance to bring their employees together and redefine what their company culture looks like post-pandemic. In-person communication is far more effective in sharing an aligned vision. Employees can focus more clearly and feel the energy and intention behind the message. 

Benefits of a corporate workcation 

When done right, a corporate workcation can improve employee wellness and promote workplace practices that reduce stress and boost morale by reinforcing culture and a positive outlook. Additionally, they: 

  • Facilitate connection. Employees can finally put a face to the name and meet their teammates in person. They can humanize their coworkers and help them understand who they are both in and outside of work. 
  • Higher engagement. Employees are more engaged in the work in person than over the screen. They are more willing to participate and share ideas. 
  • Improved efficiency and output. Employees can leave the workcation feeling more inspired and refreshed, increasing productivity. 
  • Lower staff turnover. Employees will feel more seen and heard by leadership and their colleagues, which can lead to higher employee satisfaction and retention
  • Foster collaboration. In-person interaction helps build healthy relationships and improves trust and motivation to help others, which leads to breaking down communication siloes. 

When to go on a corporate workcation

What can your company use a corporate workcation for? The most common use case for a corporate workcation is for strategic planning. Whether for a quarter or annually, a workcation is a great way to bring teams or the entire company together to align on the vision and goals for the upcoming quarter or year. Additionally, a corporate workcation could be great if a large project or initiative requires in-person collaboration, such as a rebrand or an IPO. Lastly, you may host a corporate workcation to bring your employees together to celebrate hitting a significant company milestone. 

Corporate workcations aren't cheap. If anything, they are an investment for organizations. Companies will either cover the cost of the workcation or expect employees to pay at least part of the way since they consider it partly a vacation. In that case, they'll give workers a stipend for hotel or airfare costs, team activities, and events planned outside working hours. A corporate workcation bridges the best of both worlds and allows employees to travel without using vacation days. 

Work hard, play hard

A corporate workcation is the latest in many workplace trends geared at tackling employee engagement. But it offers so many more benefits to your company by being used as a strategic tool to build trust, boost productivity, and inspire collaboration. While they seem like a waste of resources, you'll see instant ROI in employee camaraderie and culture. 

Learn more about how tools like PTO Exchange can help you increase employee engagement and satisfaction. 

Rob Whalen

Rob is co-founder and CEO of PTO Exchange.

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