With major tour operator TUI offering ‘workation’ packages and some countries introducing remote working visas, combining business and leisure is becoming increasingly popular – leaving employees wondering how to broach the subject with their employers.
The concept of a workation has been accelerated following the coronavirus pandemic, with figures from the Office for National Statistics showing nearly 40% of working adults in Great Britain are now working across multiple locations in a hybrid model.
Neha Thethi, head of employment at law firm Lime Solicitors, said, “From extended weekend breaks to temporarily relocating to another area, the growth of remote working has introduced many new freedoms for workers – with Spotify and Airbnb even implementing ‘work from anywhere’ policies.
“Workations offer obvious benefits to employees as they do not have to use up their annual leave to visit friends and family who may live abroad or to see new parts of the world. The concept, however, is still relatively new, so persuading an employer of its feasibility could be challenging.
“As it stands, there is an onus on businesses to do a lot of leg work in terms of HR and payroll when an employee requests a workation. For many organisations, their HR departments are already busy, and this additional administrative burden may not be welcome.
“With this in mind, any employee looking to take advantage of this way of working would be well advised to do their research, gather the relevant information and make the process as smooth as possible when starting a dialogue with their employer.
“Firstly, it is important to choose a work-friendly destination – consider a place’s time zone to ensure attendance at meetings is feasible, arrange accommodation that has strong WiFi connectivity and make sure you have good access to a GP for potential sick notes, for example.
“One of the main challenges is tax. In some instances, you may be required to pay tax in both your home country and the one you are working from. This is something that needs to be thoroughly researched before travelling to ensure you are not going to fall into any double tax pitfalls.
“Employees should also check their contracts. As it is a fairly new idea, revisions may need to be made and policies implemented to cover a range of matters. It is also important to ensure that any meetings around workation requests are captured in writing.
“Finally, remember that workations may not be practical for all businesses to offer and therefore any discussions or arrangements could end up being cut short, so employees should ensure they are prepared to manage the situation.”
Another consideration is data and cyber security, as Mike Wills, director of strategy and policy at CSS Assure, explained: “Employees who work abroad are still subject to GDPR and data protection laws, and, therefore, obliged to keep and store all data securely and correctly.
“When considering data security for overseas workers, employers should put policies in place to ensure employees use a protected internet connection rather than working from an internet café or on public WiFi as they could open a business up to the risk of security breaches.
“As with any international travel, people tend to put themselves at risk while away from home without even realising it. Social media is a great way to connect and share with people, but unless it is used sensibly and cautiously, your friends and family may not be the only ones viewing your posts.
“You would hope that for whatever social media platform you choose to use, the privacy settings are turned on by default. Unfortunately, they rarely are, and this can mean that anything you post – be it thoughts, photos, videos or locations – could be seen by anybody with an account to the platform.
“While information in isolation does not amount to much, if you combine it with other pieces of data, it becomes intelligence and can be used to develop a strategy to target someone.
“Using strong passwords is a critical cyber resilience practice. Doing so means cyber criminals are unlikely to gain unauthorised access to your account, which could enable them to change your privacy settings or gather information for social engineering purposes.
“Using the same password across multiple accounts or both personally and professionally is a major weak link in a company’s security system too. If one site is breached and an employee’s credentials are exposed, their risk is amplified exponentially if they use that same password elsewhere.”