Workcations (or work vacations) allow you to combine business with pleasure. Although the concept has been around for years, modern workcations come in an increasing array of shapes and sizes.
Back in the day, you may have squeezed in a few rounds of golf after work or added a weekend of fun onto the end of a business conference. These days, however, you can telecommute from a tropical island or even work from a new city every month. The rise in remote work spurred by technology — and boosted by the COVID pandemic — permits an increasing percentage of the workforce to engage in workcations.
We surveyed over 1,000 Americans to find out their thoughts about blending work with vacations and their time off plans for the future— and the results may be surprising. While the advantages of the workcation are obvious (hello, laptop on the beach!), most people don’t like the idea.
- More than half (59%) of Americans don’t like the concept of workcations.
- Over two-thirds (67%) of employees say their work and leisure time has blended in recent years.
- The same percentage (67%) assume if a coworker is on “workcation,” they’re not working as hard.
The blurred lines between work and vacation
New terminology like “digital nomads” and “bleisure” (business + leisure) point to an increasing co-mingling of work and fun. It should come as no surprise then, that over 2 in 3 Americans (67%) say their work and leisure time has blended in recent years. Almost as many employees (61%) have taken a workcation at some point in their lives.
Although workcations may seem glamorous, they often stem from more mundane realities. For example, almost half of employees (47%) have opted for a workcation instead of a real vacation because they couldn’t take time off. Nearly the same percentage (45%) say their vacations have gotten shorter in recent years because of work pressure.
Sometimes vacations become workcations due to our inability to disconnect. In fact, 4 in 5 Americans (81%) have worked during a regular vacation. Almost three-quarters (72%) have checked work-related apps on vacation simply out of habit, while nearly two-thirds (64%) have worked from a plane, car or train on the way to or from vacation.
The pros and cons of a workcation
Over a quarter (27%) of Americans say they would opt for a workcation because it’s easier than taking time off, but more positive reasons also come into play. When asked to provide motivating factors for a workcation in 2023, the number one answer given was “good for my health” (34%). Other top responses included “enabling more travel” (29%) and “good for my work” (25%).
For those who have concerns about workcations in 2023, the most common resistance was not wanting to blend work and travel (30%). Around 1 in 5 Americans mentioned the cost of travel (20%) and responsibilities at home (17%). In a true sign of modern times, only 8% of workers said their employers wouldn’t allow them to take a workcation.
What Americans assume about coworkers who are on a workcation
While the majority of employers approve of (or at least tolerate) workcations, it appears that coworkers don’t always feel the same way. In fact, a solid 67% of Americans assume that colleagues taking a “workcation” aren’t working as hard. When talking about themselves, however, 62% of Americans say they can maintain a high quality of work on a workcation.
While simple jealousy may play a role in this mindset, it may also be a question of time. Many employees had never worked remotely until the pandemic and it may take some time for attitudes to catch up. As employees see evidence that coworkers can be productive on vacation (and perhaps take some workcations themselves), they may start to change their minds.
Americans’ vacations last year, compared to next year’s plans
We asked those who took vacations in 2022 to check all that apply to how they worked — or not — on their vacations throughout the past year, and this is how they responded:
- 54% Regular vacation, did some work
- 47% Regular vacation, no work
- 37% Workcation
In 2023, even more employees hope to take a regular vacation with no work involved (71%). Some (38%) plan to do some work on vacation but only 29% aim to take an official workcation. That’s down from in 2022, when 37% did.
Here’s how Americans’ vacation plans have changed for 2023 compared to last year:
- 71% Regular vacation, no work
- 38% Regular vacation, do some work
- 29% Workcation
- 8% No Vacation
The majority of Americans work during holidays, and it’s not because of a lack of PTO
A whopping 89% of Americans have worked during holidays to catch up and 68% work during the holidays on a regular basis. Unlike workcations, however, holiday work apparently isn’t due to a lack of time off. In fact, nearly 3 in 4 (71%) of workers left some PTO on the table in 2022. A significant 39% used less than half of their PTO and 1 in 5 didn’t use any at all.
Most Americans (59%) don’t like the concept of workcations, yet 47% have taken one because they couldn’t take the time off. Work pressure has pushed 45% of employees to take shorter vacations and 71% of Americans didn’t use all of their PTO in 2022. While they don’t necessarily love it, over two-thirds of employees (67%) say their work and leisure time have blended in recent years.
If you want to seek out potential employers who offer a good work-life balance, you can check out the reviews on JobSage and see what employees have to say about workplace pressure. On the other hand, if you want to be sure your business is recognized for its balanced work environment, check out the employer resources offered by JobSage and continue to push for a positive, rewarding workplace.
From November 29, 2022, to November 30, 2022, we surveyed 1,007 Americans about work and vacations. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 76 years old, and were 49% female, 49% male and 2% non-binary.