New travel companies are making it easier for remote workers to live and work abroad without the long-term commitment.
So-called “workcations” are on the rise, with 74% of Americans who are working from home saying they would consider taking one, according to a report published in March by The Harris Poll.
But rather than booking a hotel room at the nearest beach, travel companies are enticing workers to venture farther from home with international itineraries and accommodations that are suited to their work schedules.
Work by day, explore by night
Sojrn (pronounced “sojourn”) designs month-long trips that allow remote workers to work abroad while learning about a topic related to the location. Travelers can explore philosophy in Greece, wine in Italy, wellness in Bali or Spanish skills in Colombia — all while maintaining their regular work hours.
The company arranges lodging and workspaces, as well as logistical items such as SIM cards and airport transfers, the company’s founder and CEO Tara Cappel told CNBC. Every trip includes one theme-based activity per week, with optional activities that can be added if work schedules permit, she said.
Trips of a month or more aren’t just for full-time remote workers, said Cappel. They also work for office workers who are negotiating annual periods of remote work.
“People aren’t going to be happy just going back to where it was before,” said Cappel, adding that they “are going to be more open to traveling differently and bringing their work with them if they can.”
Sojrn opened bookings in April. The Tuscany wine trip sold out in six hours, while the Bali wellness trip was fully booked in one weekend, she said. Now, around 4,500 people are on the waitlist for 2022 trips, said Cappel.
To keep up with demand, the company is organizing new trips for 2022 with themes such as conservation in South Africa, cuisine in Mexico City, fashion in Paris and history in Rome, she said. The U.S. company is also launching its first domestic trip next year — jazz in New Orleans.
Flexible stays in Europe
If a month is too long — or too little — to stay in one place, remote workers can organize their own trips through companies like Floasis, a website with accommodations that are vetted for remote work.
“Being remote workers ourselves, we knew how frustrating it was to get bad surprises when it comes to booking a stay,” said co-founder and CEO Kristina Kutan. “That’s why we make sure that each of our [locations] is tested and approved by a remote worker.
Lola Casamitjana, the firm’s co-founder and chief commercial officer, said the remote work lifestyle was inevitable.
“The pandemic was only an accelerator,” she said. “It was the kick that brought down the last walls, making it clear … we were now in dire need for new, more fulfilling ways to live and work.”
After a year of planning, the website launched last week, said Casamitjana, with listings that have workspaces, inspiring surroundings and communities for workers to connect with.
Accommodations are in Europe and Morocco and vary from village houses and seaside apartments to a Portuguese winery, French castle and Greek eco-farm. Most places can be booked by the night, week or month, and some include breakfast and yoga classes in the rate.
“This year we are focusing on Europe and want to reach 1,000 listings by the end of 2021,” she said.
More options for work-travel trips
Companies such as Remote Year have been catering to remote workers long before the pandemic. Launched in 2014, the company has retreats as short as one week as well as its namesake 12-month programs that traverse four continents.
Unsettled organizes semi-structured work-travel trips that focus on connecting like-minded people together. Trips range from one to four weeks.
For people who want to combine work, travel and social good into one trip, there’s Venture with Impact. Its week- and month-long trips are small — about four to 10 people — and the company matches participants’ skills and interests with needs in places, such as Mexico and Thailand. The 2021 itinerary includes trips to Medellin, Colombia and Lisbon, Portugal, though the exact dates haven’t been announced online.
For those who aspire to the “digital nomad” lifestyle, WiFly Nomads is a training program that teaches people how to become a remote worker, while simultaneously getting a small taste of the lifestyle. Five-day programs are held in Bali and cost around $4,000, according to the company’s website.
Due to uncertainty surrounding Covid restrictions, the next program is anticipated to launch in early 2022, said Kate Smith, WiFly Nomads’ founder and CEO. In the meantime, the company is running 12-week online programs that teach people how to land a remote job.
“This has been of particular interest to those who don’t want to return back to the office after working from home,” she said.