Working away from work: What Workation at Symphony is like
Working away from work, or in other words ‘workation’, is the ability to reinvent your workplace. Also called a ‘workoliday’ or ‘woliday’, a workation is exactly this – working while on vacation. It’s combining work and leisure, sending emails while sipping your fizzy drink in the park, or hitting targets while hitting the beach, anywhere in the world. Working the hours while relaxing. Symphony Solutions now offers this great chance for us, and there are Symphonians who have already taken the advantage of such an opportunity.
Let’s find out what their experiences were… We have asked them a few questions and they shared their stories.
- Matea Kochovska, Intermediate Recruiter
- Yuliya Kurpita, Facility Coordinator
- Olha Kutniv, QA Engineer Intermediate
- Kateryna Kuchyrenko, People Partner
- Iryna Chaban, Learning & Development Lead
1. Where did you go on workation and why did you choose that location?
MK: My workation was in Mavrovo, Macedonia. My family owns a lake house there, so my husband and I went for a little escape into nature. My dog Bailey enjoys the place the most, as he can roam the free terrain and get all that puppy energy out.
YK: I chose Turkey because there are amazing landscapes – the sea and mountains. What can be better? And of course, there were the least restrictions due to Covid.
OK: I’ve been workating since August 2020. The first time, it was at Bukovel, Ukraine. Then I understood that working in a nice place with great landscapes around doesn’t affect my work at all. During wintertime in Ukraine, my husband and I took a decision to try workation in a warm country in the Southern Hemisphere. And this country was Brazil. Why Brazil? Because I’d always dreamt about living in a tropical country during cold weather in Ukraine and Asia was closed because of COVID-19. Plus, the time difference with Ukraine was acceptable in Brazil (5 hours). After I came back to Ukraine, I’ve proceeded with workation in Slavsko, the Carpathians. I managed to climb three of the most famous mountains in Slavsko during that period plus had a nice rest time swimming, reading books, barbecuing and gathering blueberries.
KK: It was Georgia. In this country, you can find a lot to discover. Starting from architecture, both from the past and modern ones, monasteries, ropeways, and mesmerizing landscapes to the amazing sea, canyons, and waterfalls.
IC: We had a car trip to the southern part of Ukraine. First, we visited my husband’s family in Nova Kakhovka, then spent a few days at the Azov Sea. For several years we were planning this trip, but it never happened before. Frankly speaking, I have always been quite a sceptic about the idea to spend full vacation time on such a trip. Thus, it was a real chance to use Workation opportunity for this sort of journey.
2. What were your requirements for the place?
OK: My two major requirements for the workation place:
- good internet
- kitchen with cooking facilities (for long-stay places)
- seaside or swimming pool nearby
- possibility to hike nearby.
IC: First of all, I fully realized that the most time of the day I will have to spend working and having job-related meetings. Therefore, a perfect internet connection was the main priority. Secondly, it was crucial for me to have a separate location spot during working hours, so the apartment had to be spacious and well-furnished and equipped. And to balance it all out, it also needed to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye – I work more effectively if nothing around irritates me. For the reasons mentioned above, we rejected the invitation of our relatives to stay at their place – now I confirmed my thoughts that I would never survive in one flat with their two kids, a dog, and a cat.
MK: I just need an internet connection and some peace and quiet. Luckily, we have a huge yard where you can lay in the grass and spend the day relaxed with nothing but your laptop and nature.
3. How long should a perfect workation be, or it doesn’t matter?
YK: It depends on location and type of activities. As for me, one week is enough.
KK: A month, at least. Honesty, taking a workation is a very effort-consuming model of spending time, when you try to catch all the moments to discover new places and at the same time dedicate yourself to working during the day. It is important to have time for work, for walks, and some rest as well.
4. What are the pros and cons of workation, in your opinion?
- usually, workationing is more expensive than staying at home;
- you can’t visit your parents and friends as often as you used to;
- it takes time to adapt to a new country, and there is nostalgia after you come back home.
- you visit new places, meet new people, try new activities, experience new cultures.
MK: A workation can be very different for different people, as we saw in the photos. This is one of its better qualities for me, as you can really find your happy place and work in a new setting. This keeps you on your toes as you adapt to your new conditions. After work is when the real fun begins as the beach or mountains can be just a few minutes from your new office. The only con I can think of is that, eventually, you have to come back to reality.
IC: Workation gives you an opportunity to broaden your horizons, both figuratively and literally. I also noticed that I was concentrating more and setting stricter deadlines to finish the tasks in Workation mode because there were so many interesting adventures to start after work! So, my efficiency was extremely high. On the contrary, I believe it would’ve been impossible to work at all if we had gone to some classical vacation place with emerald sea and breathtaking views. So, in my opinion, Workation is a perfect option for quiet places or locations where you can quench your thirst for sightseeing within a few restricted hours in the morning or/and in the evening. Or you might consider Workation as a starting point for the full Vacation, then it will work perfectly as a combination, and the time spent at the place you like might be longer.
5. Can you share any funny stories from your workation?
MK: So me and my husband, Neno, were sitting in the yard, me on my laptop and him laying on a blanket and reading. Suddenly a couple of dogs enter the yard ready to play, so Neno gets up to go find some food for them. He comes back 15 min later and finds that the dogs have already found some food of their own. One of them was chewing on the cover of his book. So now he always has a souvenir to remember our time in Mavrovo.
YK: It was fun at the airport when the customs officer asked me why I need a laptop if I’m going on vacation. Then I told him about the workation. He looked at me sympathetically, and I realized that workation sounds strange to other people.
KK: Once, I didn’t check if I could pay by card in the restaurant. I ordered the food and the moment I started to eat it, I realized that I have only $50 (1 bill) and no Georgian lari. I ordered food for $10 and almost paid $50. But at the end of the day, after a long discussion, we found some compromise and went together with the waitress to exchange the money. BTW, it was already 10 p.m. and they were preparing to close the restaurant. I met people from other courtiers in the city centre, they asked about the road to one place. They tried to guess my nationality and I said “Слава Україні”. At that moment one stranger who was passing by answered “Героям Слава”. It was really funny and I was so proud. Ukrainian people are everywhere! Workation is full of funny stories…
6. Any recommendations and pieces of advice you could give to Symphonians planning workation in the future?
YK: Plan your day in advance and you’ll avoid unnecessary stress.
MK: I would go with renting a bigger place, preferably with a yard because the privacy really makes a difference. Macedonia has some beautiful lakes, mountains, and even waterfalls, so pick a place that will really recharge your batteries.
OK: Check entrance and staying rules for the particular country, get vaccines against particular diseases if you plan to visit exotic places; don’t change locations too often – better spend this time visiting new places.
KK: The only recommendation is to start travelling more and get some fresh air and motivation from it. Regarding locations – Google and YouTube are great helpers here.
- Differentiate between Workation and Vacation. Keep in mind that it is still more ‘work’ than ‘relax’.
- Combine Workation with Vacation. It will bring more opportunities to explore and will let you adapt better.
- Choose the place to live thoroughly. It should be comfortable as if you stayed at home. A perfect internet connection is a “must”; your colleagues shouldn’t suffer from technical issues.
- Be ready for unexpected situations and face them with joy!
As you can tell, so many Symphonians have already had an excellent first run of the Workation program. With the new benefit, you can get the best of both worlds – in a true definition of “work hard, play hard” – positively change the way you work and set out on your personal journey to discover the world, how you like it and when you like it.
Beyond booking a holiday with a tour operator, workation has so much more to offer, as it gives you more say in where to go and how long to stay. It gives you that much-needed freedom once you get tired of going in and out of the office, and opens up new horizons to discover.
Reading these stories is enough to boost your spirits and make you excited to try a workation of your very own. Read more about Symphony Solutions benefits and get to planning your next adventure!