The classic workation
Maybe you have heard the terms retreat, coworking, coliving, digital nomadism and ask yourself “What exactly is the difference? Isn’t that the same?”
Let’s first look at how a classical workation is structured and what the basic structure looks like, that helps us to see the similarities and differences in the next step easily. Even if each workation is super individual, most of them follow the following structure:
- The duration: A workation always has a foreseeable time frame. Foreseeable because it doesn’t necessarily have to be an exact time period from day X to day Y. The fact is, however, that most workations follow such a fixed period. A workation lasts 1-2 weeks on average. But also several weeks or even months are possible.
- The number of participants is usually 10 to 20, simply because this is a good size to get to know all other people better. But we have also been to workations with several hundred participants.
- Fixed structure: Usually a workation also has a fixed schedule (today Instagram Workshop and evening event Karaoke, tomorrow Workshop Finance and Hiking Excursion, in between leisure/time to work etc.).
- A fixed location (e.g. a villa or mountain lodge) in which all participants come together and spend the night.
- Common interests: All participants have a similar background and arrive with similar expectations within the set framework. Be it to promote the business together, to do yoga together, to surf…
So much for the basic structure, which of course does not have to be complied with. Now let’s take a look at the other work models and concepts:
Work and Travel
The most familiar term you’ve heard, for sure. If you compare work and travel with a workation where you work from a beautiful place on another corner of the world, there are some parallels. But there are two completely different approaches: With Work & Travel, you travel from place to place in order to finance your travel with constantly new part-time jobs.
Whereas in a Workation you continue to pursue your regular work or work on specific goals. In addition, one usually stays only in one place and does not travel around. Work & Travel is therefore more of a time-out where working is a tool for the purpose. Usually you do a work & travel between jobs or directly after school or university.
The Digital Nomadism
A complete definition of what is behind it would probably go beyond the scope. Digital nomadism is not a working model, a time-out or the like, but a lifestyle. One travels around the world with one’s business, partner and family with all the advantages and disadvantages that this lifestyle brings with it. These are mainly freelancers and online entrepreneurs. Maybe you belong to this group, dear reader. The Workation is a great addition to this lifestyle and most digital nomads have already been on a Workation. You too? If not then it’s time! When travelling as a digital nomad, you often lack the connection and the exchange with other like-minded people or real relaxation (because you are so much at work) in your everyday life. The workation offers a great setting to connect, build up new friendships and work specifically at certain topics.
Coworking is more and more on the rise and more and more coworking spaces are shooting up like mushrooms. Literally coworking means “working together”. And that’s exactly what you do with this working model: You come together in one place (= coworking space) to work together with others from there. Meanwhile there are coworking spaces all over the world, on the beach and in the big city. Coworking is part of a workation. But in pure coworking there is no fixed framework in comparison to the workation and you don’t live together with other people. If, for example, you are on Bali and work in a coworking space, you can get to know people there, but everyone has usually different goals and interests, works independently on his own thing. The classic coworking therefore offers a completely different kind of community. In a nutshell, coworking is just about being in a work atmosphere, surrounded by other working people, so that you don’t feel alone as a freelancer or self-employed person and you can exchange experiences with other people like in the office of a company and eat together. The focus of coworking is clearly on work.
Similar to coworking, coliving (= living together) brings you together with others in one place. Here, however, the focus is on living together in one place for a certain period of time. Be it to save costs or simply to have the opportunity to connect with other people. Same as with coworking there is no fixed setting in comparison to the workation and everybody has completely different objectives and often joins for different lengths of time. That said, coliving is also part of a workation.
Retreat means – you guessed it – to retreat: Withdrawing from everyday life to recharge your batteries and/or engage in something new. A retreat like a workation also has a fixed outline and you are surrounded by like-minded people and live with them for the duration of the retreat. The differences between a workation and a retreat are fluid from our point of view and depending on the perspective you could say it is the same. From the classical definition the difference is that in a workation you work on your business and in a retreat you work on yourself to recover, get new insights, learn new skills or deepen existing ones (e.g. in the most common form of retreat: the yoga retreat). Since we define “work” in the workation as work on oneself, one’s skills or one’s work, the retreat is ultimately nothing more than a form of workation with the focus of working on oneself.
Camps, such as surf camps or kite camps, are in the same league. You live together with others for a certain period of time, who want to practice the same hobby and either learn it from scratch or improve their skills. Analogous to the retreat above: From a classical point of view, one can say that the focus in camps is mostly on working on skills of a certain hobby. In this respect, a camp is also a kind of workation.
Yup, that was a lot of concepts. In case you are more confused now than before, let’s briefly summarize the distinctions: The goal of a workation is to work together with like-minded people on something, be it
- Your own business or a project (=classic work)
- Oneself, like mindset, health (= often also called retreat)
- Or specific skills and hobbies (= also called camp),
to learn from each other, to network and to make new contacts. A workation is usually a short event with a fixed framework and a limited number of participants. It is much more than just coworking or coliving. Workations bring people with the same interests together to give them the opportunity to have an unforgettable time and a lot of fun, while at the same time everyone can grow through the support of this community – personally and professionally.