Workaholics welcome: Relax, you can stay wired

    If the idea of being unplugged while you’re away terrifies you, perhaps a ‘co-working holiday’ will give you the necessary chance to relax.

    In the age of smartphones, social media and cheap international calls, the perfect holiday for a growing number of people involves taking a complete break from the digital world. But a new travel phenomenon turns this concept on its head. It’s called the co-working holiday.

    The concept is simple: solo travellers visit a beautiful location and work in a shared space while they’re there. Though it might go against the very definition of what a holiday is, these breaks are attractive to those who don’t like the idea of switching off while abroad. Location-independent bloggers and early career entrepreneurs (especially in the tech industry) are prime candidates for co-working holidays, according to one such operator, Livit Spaces in Bali.

    “We offer entrepreneurs a space where they can focus on their work, and immerse themselves in a super-productive environment with a network of like-minded, passionate people,” says its community manager, Nick Martin.

    His Indonesia-based company offers all-inclusive packages with accommodation, meals, daily cleaning, office space, networking events and excursions from about £48 a night.

    A network called Coworking Visa lists 450 independent co-working spaces around the world. An increasing number of their members are starting to offer residential options in addition to on-the-move office space for those working and travelling. Their clients includewriters, bloggers, artists and designers as well as businesspeople and entrepreneurs.

    Bethany Wrede Peterson, the founder of the consultancy and events club the Rocket Factory, is on her first co-working holiday in Bali.

    “As an entrepreneur, you never really switch off, no matter where you are,” she says. “But I discipline myself during the week so I can take weekends to hit the beach, explore the island or chill out. I still feel pressure here, but it’s hard to be too stressed when you’re working barefoot on a beanbag in the sun, a beautiful ricefield view just beyond your laptop screen. Balance is an all-too-elusive feeling, and I have found it here.”

    Some co-working holidays, such as United States-based Hacker Paradise, which was launched in mid-summer 2014, run for a specific time annually and offer structured packages. Last year this company, which despite its name is open to artists and other creative people as well as tech developers, was based at a hotel in Costa Rica.

    This year it is spending a month each in Vietnam, Bali, Thailand and the Philippines. Travellers can join for a week or up to three months. A month’s stay costs from £400 in a shared room, or £1?000 for a private suite. Breakfast, dinner, 3G SIM cards and office space with wi-fi are included.

    Other operators such as Sun Desk, based in Taghazout, a surf haven in southern Morocco, and 47 Ronin, in a residential area of Kyoto, Japan, take bookings throughout the year, charging about £16 a night for accommodation, workspace and breakfast.

    Surf Office offers co-working stays in Santa Cruz, California, and the Canary Islands, and is planning two new destinations this year. A private room at the beach in Santa Cruz will set you back £62 a night, including on-site office space, a shared kitchen and weekly lifts into San Francisco, as well as yoga sessions and supplies of water and organic coffee.

    Although co-working holidays won’t be for everyone, the need for alternatives to traditional holidays may well see growth that matches the rise of self-employment. But whether that’s a good thing for overburdened modern workers remains to be seen.

    Originally published by The Guardian and licensed to Mail & Guardian through the Newscred publisher network. Image above by David Reid (CC BY-NC 2.0).

    Lauren Razavi

    Lauren Razavi

    Award-winning freelance writer covering technology, innovation, future trends, global dev, cities and sustainability for titles such as The Guardian, Wired, New Statesman, VICE and The Atlantic.