A new trend for 2021 and beyond: Workation and Staycation
Today I’d like to discuss a trend that, like others analysed lately, has been around for a while now. And once again, became prominent thanks to the big leap forward in the digitisation of our everyday personal and professional life. This indicates most likely some changes that are going to stick in the future as well.
So first of all which are these weird trends that I mentioned in the title and what do they mean:
Staycation: indicates a holiday spent favouring local destinations. Especially places in your home country more than abroad.
Workation: indicates a medium to long period of time spent in some attractive holiday destination working instead of just enjoying a brief holiday. A much-needed mix of the two, that allows people to effectively ‘move’ their office in a place of their choice.
The drastic increase in the amount of remote work that lots of people manage daily enabled these new models or lifestyles to develop. Whether those will become the “new normal” is still uncertain but one thing that everyone agrees with is that remote work is here to stay, in some way. Therefore several Hotel chains are updating their offer converting regular meeting spaces and unused conference rooms into co-working areas to promote this new trend.
Also, some hotels, like CitizenM, developed a new formula (similar to a monthly subscription) that freelance or a company can provide its employees. This is dedicated to those people who work remotely and don’t have the possibility to do it from home.
Similarly, small towns have the occasion to renovate themselves to cater to this emerging customer base. Simple houses, paired with services and areas dedicated to remote work can bring new life to many traditional places that normally struggle to attract much tourism. An interesting consequence of this double transformation is the convergence of homes and hotels, each evolving integrating some characteristics of the other.
Since some of the people going on workation will bring family with them, hoteliers need to address their needs. For example, providing an area for the parents to work within the hotel room they share with their kids. This needs to be a separate space.
As a consequence of these evolving needs, many developers are moving away from the maximisation and standardisation of the number of rooms. Instead, right now the market requires more variety and a wider offer. The new traveller is a person who wants to live in the hotel feeling welcome and comforted. They want to find everything that they need to work, home school their kids, and do all the things they would do at home. They are also looking for a closer relationship and exchange between outdoor and indoor spaces as well as with the local culture, as highlighted in our report of the 2021 Elle Décor Summit for Hospitality and by Biophilic Design.
This kind of development creates opportunities for synergies with the local institutions and businesses which in return can offer other services to support the hotel offer, resulting in a better and more comprehensive overall experience. The hotels are becoming places for clients to live and feel comfortable regardless of the activities and needs. Being flexible and having a wide variety of offerings is necessary even for small hotels. This reflects the fact that, as human beings, we need more flexibility and are adapting to new lifestyles. So, the spaces we live in have to keep the pace with this evolution. In turn, the development has to happen at different levels: on a large scale (architectural, almost at the urbanistic level, because commercial structures have to support the needs of residents), on the medium scale (fluid interior design, with hybrid spaces catering to many different needs) and micro-level (product design varying to adapt and become almost like that of a ‘regular’ home or office, not anymore that of a regular hotel).
From these premises, Italian entrepreneur Federico Pisanty created Borgo Office (Borgo meaning Village in Italian). The initiative involves farms and small rural companies in villages which will host for free digital nomads and other professionals who desire to escape the cities to work remotely. In exchange, residents and tourists can (but don’t have to) buy ‘support packages’ from the farm which usually consist of a different kind of produce. In this way, the farms can not only make additional profit through their products but also gain popularity thanks to word-of-mouth.
In an interesting statement, Pisanty claimed that he believes in a time of crisis for men, nature comes to support us. So far, farms got paid to host tourists, but right now, it is crucial to fully take advantage of the fruits of such work with nature. And so far, his project has been received with great enthusiasm.
The developing relationship of people, working life, architecture, and interior design with nature is here to stay. So, any integration that designers and developers employ, making an interior more sustainable, will also be an added value.
*Source: Borgo Office
This will also be crucial to solving increasing issues of insecurity and mental health that have arisen during this period of pandemic. A survey of 372 hospitality workers published in the Journal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market and Complexity highlights the need for managers to deal with psychological factors affecting employees and residents. At the same time, every branch of the hospitality sector has to rethink the development and use of space to help solve these issues.
Workation in rural areas and new hospitality schemes might just be the right solution to offer people a new and safe way to escape the isolation and monotony of our current daily life.
*Cover photo by Borgo Office