Why should you cater for workations | Consumer | Deloitte Netherlands


Why should you cater for workations?

New trend in the travel, hospitality and leisure sector and in HR

Now that we have all got used to working remotely, workations are becoming more common. Why - and how - should HR and the travel, hospitality and leisure sector respond to this trend?

This article was co-written by Annemieke Brouwer and Lydia Nellen.

Success across sectors

Not surprisingly, the fast-moving consumer goods sector made up the largest share of the Top 250 retailers as grocers continued to benefit from stores remaining open throughout lockdowns. Some of the most successful retailers in the past year were grocers who also had a large digital footprint.

Also experiencing strong growth, hardlines and leisure goods was the most profitable sector in FY2020 and recorded the highest year-on-year retail revenue growth rate. With less travel and more time spent at home, consumers looked to these products to refresh personal spaces and provide entertainment in and out of doors.

The diversified products group recorded the second highest year-on-year retail revenue growth rate after hardlines and leisure goods, with e-commerce being a significant driver among the largest retailers in this sector. And though apparel and accessories retailers took a hit in FY2020, there are signs of this sector rebounding.

How did travel demand change during the pandemic?

In 2020, we explored whether the demand for travel would change in a post-COVID world. Although spending intentions for leisure travel were encouraging, the recovery of the travel, hospitality and leisure sector remained uncertain, especially when COVID restrictions continued. This offers new and sustainable opportunities to the sector, one of which may be found in a new target group: “workation travellers”. Since the shift to remote work will likely outlive the pandemic, travel, leisure and work are becoming more intertwined. This hybrid form of travel, also called “bizleisure” or “bleisure”, is growing in popularity across all levels of the workforce and is driving a new type of business traveller.

New hybrid working model: How and where to work

At the same time, improving the well-being of the workforce is still high on the agenda of HR. Organisations strive to bring out the human strengths that will enable success, especially during the continuing pandemic. Significant changes during COVID-19 have provided HR with the opportunity to redesign work more boldly. Working closely with the business, HR must adapt its perspective on work-related challenges and re-architect work and the workplace. This will help the organisation to thrive, by enabling employees to become more productive and resilient, and by improving organisational performance.  

Where to start? Our suggestion: design work in a way that supports employees to determine how and where work could be done. In fact, consider starting facilitating ”workations” for your workforce. This would respond to some of the needs of your employees and increase employee engagement and satisfaction significantly. According to the Global State of the Consumer Tracker, half of all employed adults (53%) say they can do their job remotely. This is not just a matter of whether they can, but also whether they prefer to do so. When asked how many days a week they would prefer to work from home (if their employer allowed it), 49% of Dutch employees responded ‘2-3 days’. 27% even responded ‘4 or 5 days from home’. Even more surprisingly, when asked ‘for my next vacation, I will likely visit a destination that…’, 7% responded with a destination ‘I can work from’. This is a significant number, considering that other answer options included ‘has a deal on airfare’, ‘is near a major attraction’, and ‘offers an activity I like’. These insights show a significant opportunity to design work in a way that supports employees to live and work in a different location than their home. LinkedIn has also highlighted working flexibly and asynchronously as one of the major trends for 20221. In order to facilitate this preference, both the Hospitality industry and HR should take action. 

Travel, hospitality and leisure industry: cater for workation travellers

In order to facilitate the emerging workation target group, we recommend two steps. First, (re)design your services to match the hybrid hospitality model. Explore if you can facilitate professionals to enjoy living and working in the same space. Professionals love working in social, collaborative and innovative spaces, especially when they are enabled to switch between quiet and peaceful office spaces and coworking lounges. Colliers – a provider of real estate services and investment management - has clearly outlined the core qualities of a hybrid hospitality hotel2. Think about arranging (day-to-day flexible) equipment rental services, such as an additional monitor or office chair. Ensure round-the-clock services by providing á la carte upgrades, such as a gym membership, laundry services or excellent on-site amenities. Collaborate with local communities to facilitate learning opportunities. Essentially, the sky is the limit if you want to differentiate yourself from a customer perspective. Repurposing open or unused spaces or starting (local) partnerships can help lower the costs.

Second, position your offer to potential customers in an attractive way. For example, some hotel chains provide the option of a 30 days’ stay in one of their hotels at an attractive flat rate. Consider how you can offer high quality differentiating services combined with maximum flexibility.

HR: offer workation opportunities

As a first step in re-architecting work, HR should learn from and collaborate with employees to identify the opportunities. What are their preferences and needs when it comes to working from another location? How will a workation improve their employee experience? Developing a policy on workation requires HR to take a closer look at roles, capabilities, work and activities. Create a workation journey and policy so you are clear on the potential pains and gains. Consider some practical steps to take, such as: 

  • Understand the legal and fiscal implications of your employees working from another country. 
  • Be clear to employees what the organisation allows/offers (and what not). 
  • Explain any limitations with regards to health & travel insurance. 
  • Consider partnerships with workation providers. For example, workation.com3 facilitates work-ready living and provides local assistance for the best experience.

Finally, don’t forget to actively promote these opportunities to employees for maximum awareness. This will help to retain and motivate your top performers. In an organisational culture that does not accept and embrace this initiative, few employees will use this opportunity. Make sure to include the workation in your employee value proposition to be an attractive employer for new talent with highly competitive benefits.

How we can help

Are you interested in responding to the workation trend and looking for help? We are always happy to connect, discuss and share experiences from our network.

  • To take a leading role in this trend, HR needs a major shift in mindset, roles, capabilities and digital enablers, reinventing itself at the core. Our HR Transformation offering can help rethink how HR can best support the organisation. 
  • Wondering how to redesign work and the workplace as an (HR) organisation? Our Future of Work offering provides further insights into how to shape the future of work, the workplace and your workforce.

Want to know more?


Did you find this useful?