2020 was a year of seismic changes. One of the most affected aspects of our lives was the way we work. Suddenly, instead of commuting to an office, we were told to work from home.
After months of staying indoors, restricted to our usual environment, the thought of a change of scenery is becoming extremely tempting for many. For our mental health, a break in routine is probably what most doctors would order us to do right now!
Fortunately, as we are no longer tied to our office desks, the opportunity to design our own life is becoming less of a mirage and more of a reality.
A ‘workcation’ in tropical Far North Queensland, with resplendent views of palm trees and the ocean rather than our tired, old lounge room, provides the perfect opportunity to get away and reset the batteries.
What exactly is a workcation? A combination of ‘work’ and ‘vacation’, the term started showing up a few years ago and is slowly but surely gaining popularity. In times of COVID, when we are asked to stay away from our usual office working space, this option sounds rather appealing: Do your normal job online while exploring a new region.
You could work from morning until late afternoon, explore your surroundings in the evening and go to the Great Barrier Reef or the rainforest on the weekend. Refresh your mind and your soul for better productivity. Less distractions and less pressure? Yes, please! Your boss is sure to agree to that.
What’s the difference between ‘workcationing’ with working remotely? When you work remotely, you work offsite for a long period of time, or all of the time, from wherever you live geographically.
As a workcationer, you are merely working remotely while on a temporary trip away from the office and your home.
So, I will become a digital nomad? Not quite! Digital nomads do this type of work as a lifestyle. They often don’t have a home base and travel all year round (or most of the year). A workcation is a temporary situation.
Sounds appealing? There are a few things to consider first Firstly, is your job digitalised? That is, do you already work from home? Do you have an agreement in place with your employer allowing you to work away from the office?
Is your employer okay with you being away from your home base? Remember the ‘work’ in workcation; your normal work routine and working relationships need to be disrupted as little as possible.
Is this for you? Not everyone can just pack up and go. There are families, pets and bills to take into consideration.
Are you the type? Working away from an office or even home office environment or is not for everyone. Some people like structure and a routine; others rely on co-worker and/or client interactions.
Discipline is also important: Can you resist the temptation to go out for a coffee or a stroll along the Esplanade during working hours? By being clear on your working hours and by treating your working time as just that, work, you avoid blurring the lines between work and rest.
The cost: Who is going to finance this? Is this your idea or have you discussed it with your employer? Clarify with your employer if they are going to pay for it – or parts of it.
Necessary technology: a laptop, smartphone, a VPN for added security (something your employer is surely going to be concerned about) and a plan B for internet in case the local network does not work or is a bit slow (you could use your mobile phone hotspot, but do you have sufficient data?). Do you need a printer? How often do you print documents? Check that your hotel has a business centre where you can print/scan documents if required, or that there is an Officeworks close by (the one in Cairns is in the city center, near the Cairns Central shopping center. There is no Officeworks in Port Douglas).
Don’t forget your chargers, adapters and leads.
Duration: A workcation can be as long as you can possibly afford it. It could also simply be an extra-long weekend: arrive Friday and depart Tuesday, for example. Work Friday and Monday, play Saturday and Sunday.
Finding the perfect tropical spot for your workcation Topical Far North Queensland (Cairns & Port Douglas) is ideally suited for workcations.
Cairns has a busy domestic airport, while both Cairns & Port Douglas offer a wide variety of hotels, ranging from 5-star resorts to luxury villas or Airbnb’s; NBN; great shopping and restaurants; almost year-round sunshine and a huge range of activities. The region is perfect for both work and play.
Most hotels in Cairns & Port Douglas offer special rates for extended stays, depending on the dates. Be aware that the best dates are usually outside of school holidays or long weekends.
Below is a list of some of the hotels you might consider. These have dedicated workspace desks and fast Wi-Fi; they are also centrally located close to restaurants and have a resort-type swimming pool, great for stretching the body after hours spent working on a computer.
The Shangri La Hotel Cairns, overlooking the Marlin Marina, offers a 25% discount for stays over 3 days. This offer includes:
· High-speed and restriction-free Wi-Fi and broadband internet access
· Access to the Health Club and Pool
There are many restaurants within walking distance, and the Reef fleet Terminal is just across the plaza.
Shangri La Hotel Cairns - image © Shangri la Hotel Cairns
Riley by Crystalbrook, Cairns’ newest hotel, offers chic and elegant rooms, with views over the ocean or the mountains. Their stunning pool overlooks the esplanade (with yoga classes on Saturday mornings) and their bar, Rocco’s, simply has the best views over Cairns. You will definitely feel you are on a chic tropical workcation here!
Riley by Crystalbrook - image © Crystalbrook Collection
The Pullman Cairns International is located in the heart of the city, within walking distance to the marina, the Reef Fleet terminal and many restaurants. The rooms are amongst the largest in Cairns, so are great for giving you that extra space for work.
Palm Cove, located between Cairns & Port Douglas, has a village atmosphere, with a beach fringed by swaying palms and plenty of restaurants. There are many hotels to consider:
You may need a car while staying in Palm Cove as there is only a small supermarket available.
Port Douglas is about one hour’s drive north of Cairns and is a charming resort town with plenty of cafes, great restaurants and shops.
The Sheraton Grand Mirage has special rates for extended stays and a huge lagoon pool that you will find hard to leave. For total indulgence, you could even book one of their pool cabanas as your workspace for the day.
Cabanas at the Sheraton Grand Mirage Port Douglas - © Sheraton Grand Mirage
The Pullman Port Douglas Resort & Spa has large apartments available and an amazing lagoon pool with plenty of secluded spots.
As an alternative, you could also consider utilising Airbnb’s or private villas for your workcation; they would all welcome extended stays at the moment.
A few tips to make the best of your workcation Just like working from home, you need to set clear boundaries and rules in order to make a success of your workcation:
Plan ahead. Look at your personal life and make sure everything on the home front is being taken care of: Do you receive your bills digitally; have you organised someone to water the plants, to keep an eye on your property?
On arrival, set up your workspace: Ideally, book a room with a desk or a separate lounge area that could be used as a workspace. This creates a clear delineation between your work and vacation areas. Then make sure the technology works; you don’t want unwelcome surprises as you are about to start working.
Set up a routine: Plan your time around your working hours and the tasks you need to complete each day. Stick to these working hours and plan your free time around them, just like you would at home. Make sure your employer/fellow co-workers/clients can reach you during working hours.
Remember this is work: Do not respond to calls while you are in the pool, or brag about your surroundings. Find a quiet spot to attend your Zoom calls and webinars, show up on time and dress professionally. Act as if you were in the actual office.
Workcations are a great way to reset your mind if you are unable to take a holiday. A change in scenery really is as restorative as a holiday.
On work days, evenings provide an additional bonus where you can simply walk along the city streets, take in the local atmosphere and immerse yourself in the region. Can you see yourself strolling along the Cairns Esplanade, or Macrossan street in Port Douglas, on the way to dinner? Of course you can!
Ready to start your workcation in Tropical Far North Queensland? My team at Cairns Concierge can help you make the most of your time away. We can assist in planning your work and play time to make your experience seamless and stressless, restorative and fun.