As telecommuting has proven necessary, practical and long-lasting for many amid the pandemic, a common thought’s been occurring to employees worldwide — why work from home when you could work by a beach, or at a Parisian café?
Working while on vacation, or a “workation” — whether a long weekend, week, month or more —may be more popular and widespread than ever, and U.K.-based vacation search engine Holidu.co.uk has compiled a list of the top cities worldwide for “mixing business and pleasure.”
“The events of the past year and a half have completely shifted the ways in which we work, showing us that we don’t always have to be in the office five days a week to do our jobs,” said Sarah Siddle, public relations and marketing manager at Holidu. “A workation is the perfect way to spend an extended period of time in a destination you want to explore without the limitations of staying within yearly holiday allowances.”
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Holidu’s Workation Index for 2021 ranked 150 cities as working vacation destinations using factors ranging from the monthly rent on a one-bedroom apartment and cost of after-work drinks to average hours of sunshine, wi-fi speeds and the number of “things to do” rated four stars or above. (The eight data sources used included BestCities.org and Tripadvisor.co.uk.)
Bangkok, Thailand tops the list this year, followed by New Delhi, India; Lisbon, Portugal; Barcelona, Spain; and — tied at No. 5 — Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Budapest, Hungary. The Thai capital ranks first thanks to its affordable cost of living, high degree of English-language proficiency, range of attractions and wealth of world-class facilities and multinational corporate offices, according to Holidu.
“All the cities that secured top spot places managed to do so mostly due to their very affordable cost of living, with the price of accommodation, food and drinks offering extremely attractive prices,” Siddle said. “On top of this, these cities are cultural hotspots in their own rights, all offering an array of amazing things to see and do.”
No U.S. city cracked the top 20; Los Angeles placed highest at No. 30.
In addition to L.A., Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Diego and Chicago all ranked above New York. The Big Apple does come first for weekend activities and is No. 2 worldwide for co-working spaces, just behind London.
San Francisco and San Diego were third and fourth globally for remote wi-fi connectivity, and Phoenix and Las Vegas placed fourth and fifth, respectively, for “duration of sunshine.” (Holidu has published the full list online.)
The phenomenon of the “digital nomad” working from wherever likely will have staying power, according to Siddle.
“We expect to see this trend rise over the next few years as more companies are giving employees the flexibility to continue to work while they take longer trips abroad, in turn resulting in a better work-life balance,” she said.
For its part, travel-organizing app TripIt from Concur found in a recent analysis of booking data that longer stays at lodgings — both in the eight- to 13-day and 14-plus-day windows — are 10 times greater compared to 2019, a result partly attributable to customers combining business and leisure.
“Eighty-nine percent of global business travelers said they would add personal vacation time onto their trips in the next 12 months, and that’s pretty significant,” said Jen Moyse, senior director, product at TripIt in San Francisco.
Of workations specifically, it’s “a trend” for which TripIt has “a lot of anecdotal evidence,” she added. “We live in a tech hub here, so that’s definitely something we’re hearing from friends and family.”
There are legal and tax implications to consider when working away from your city or country of residence, however. “Of course, there are a few things to consider, like tax rules and regulations, but companies are beginning to outline official guidelines and advice for employees regarding just how much time abroad they can spend working, making the process that bit easier,” Siddle said.