Introducing The ‘Workcation'
Business Traveller Middle East|November 2020
With remote work now a reality for full-time employees, many are seeking a change of scene and swapping their home offices for more aspirational locations
Melanie Swan
The way we work has changed dramatically in 2020, and perhaps, forever. With working-from home a reality for many companies for the remainder of the year and well into 2021 and corporate giants such as Twitter making that move permanently, many people are seeking a more conducive space to live and work. It is no longer just freelancers looking for a new home working experience, but across industries from media to finance and psychology to fitness, huge numbers of people now realise they can take their ‘office’ to more exotic climes.

In Dubai, Airbnb management specialist, Frank Porter, has seen accommodation normally favoured for holiday purposes now booked for work-related stays.

“As more people work from home, we are seeing an increase in business travel bookings,” confirms the company’s founder and CEO, Anna Skigin.

“Apartments win over hotels in this case as you can work in your own space, cook yourself a meal in your own kitchen and do your own laundry. It’s an easy and safe option. We are also receiving many enquiries about the availability of high-speed internet connections so people can Zoom easily.”

Another trend, she continues, is for extended stays with people “travelling for holidays with the mindset they can also work”.

“We are receiving a lot of enquiries from individual corporate travellers who want to visit Dubai”

“So, for example, a one-week holiday is being extended to a two-week holiday – people are enjoying a new destination and working at the same time,” Skigin explains.

Not to be outdone by peer-to-peer concepts like Airbnb, a host of serviced apartments and hotels are now offering deals to entice people to work in a more glamorous or appealing environment – or at least in a destination that offers a change of scene.

With the work-life balance disrupted or rather blurred for the considerable future, the ‘workcation’ trend has emerged and it looks like it’s here to stay.

STAYING LOCAL

Recent Global Business Travel Association surveys found that 92 per cent of companies continue to restrict international travel and around 70 per cent have suspended domestic travel.

As a result, hotels, resorts and entire destinations are re-thinking how they generate revenue.

“It’s time to pivot,” acknowledges Accor CEO Sebastien Bazin, which is offering rooms as offices to locals who can “work for anywhere” within walking or biking distance.

Speaking at a recent Skift trends forum he says the hotel group is “replacing business travel” by “catering to locals” instead.

It’s not alone; hotel operators big and small are enticing local workers with concepts to get them working at their properties.

In Dubai, Studio One Hotel has been offering the ‘Box Office’ where renting rooms by the day promises a quiet environment without the home distractions of pets, children or partners.

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