Workations Are Epic: Why The Collato Team Went to Barat, Croatia

One of the most epic parts of the culture we've developed at Collato is our workations. This article tells our biggest learnings from our most recent trip to Croatia, along with the benefits of a workation and how you can plan one of your own.

You've probably heard the buzzword 'workation' before, it's the harmonious combination of business and leisure. Hitting targets and reaching professional goals all while sitting alongside the pool with a drink in hand. Sounds pretty awesome, right?

But do these trendy workations actually live up to the hype? We think so.

The Collato team recently took an eight day workation to a teeny-tiny town called Barat, in northern Croatia. Although it was the first of its kind, our workation went exceptionally well and we're already planning our next one! In this blog, we'll cover everything we've learned.

Let's go!

What is a Workation?

A workation (aka workcation, workoliday, or woliday) is simply a working vacation. That means you go to an exotic location and complete specific tasks and goals, but in between these working sprints, you vacation.

It's important to note that workations aren't about taking a vacation from work. It's more about throwing yourself into work while scheduling ways to relax and unwind so you can be overall more productive.

Who can take a workation?

Taking a workation highly depends in your company and job position. Some careers give you the option to work a hybrid schedule, or even 100% remote (a digital nomad as they say), which means a workation might be possible for you. Just make sure your employer knows what you're planning before you fly across the continent or relocate to another city!

Another option is a team workation, sort of like a company retreat. It's when you go somewhere for a set amount of time with your entire team. This could be great for team building, lengthy projects, etc.

Collato tired out the latter and flew to Barat, Croatia. We spent eight days juggling between working sprints, team bonding, and vacationing. Here are the advantages we saw, as well as some helpful tips we learned along the way.

What Are The Benefits of a Workation?

1. Get to know your team

It's crazy when someone joins the team and they work really well with everyone, but in the end, no one really knows each other. Since Collato was founded during the pandemic, we know this problem a little too well.

We found that something magical happens when your team is all together in person, especially when you do more than just work. That's why a workation was perfect for us. We cooked and ate together, explored cities, swam in the pool, and played boardgames. We learned from each other and found out who our teammates actually are!

2. More productivity

When you go on a workation, it's not a complete vacation, even though it can be just as fun as one! If planned right (we'll get into that later), workations can be highly productive. During ours, we had the opportunity to evaluate our product, squash annoying bugs, write new product content, as well as design and implement new features. We got so much done!

At the beginning of the week, we decided what to prioritize during our workation. Together we brainstormed on how we can make Collato better and then divided up all the tasks. These are the topics we covered:

🖱️Do more with less clicks - how can eliminate unnecessary clicks in our product?

😊 Put a smile on our users face - how can we add a little joy to the product?

🗺️ Give more guidance - how can we improve UX?

📘Be more on-brand - what can we change to make the product look like Collato?

Keep in mind that a large part of staying productive on a workation is creating a plan and managing your expectations accordingly!

3. Fresh perspective

A change of environment gives your mind a new perspective on your work and team. You might find things out about yourself too. For example, maybe you'll notice that your focus is strongest in the morning, or that you like to schedule your most important tasks after lunch. Or perhaps you find that working outside or in a group makes you more productive. Super valuable knowledge to bring back with you!

4. Increased motivation

Workations incite creativity and motivation by allowing your team to work in a place that's inspiring. That's why many common workation locations are rural or in nature. Our house in Croatia was up in the hills in the sleepy town of Barat. It was a perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Berlin.

Additionally, workations naturally enhance retention and encourage your team to 'come into work' more rested and enthusiastic to get things done.

5. Relaxation

When you're stressed, you miss the obvious because you're too in the weeds to see your situation clearly. If you have the chance to relax on a workation, you can better fulfill every point on this list. So take a gosh darn break and enjoy yourself.

Any chance we got, the Collato team went swimming or just bathed in the sun. We came back freckled, tanned, and definitely relaxed!

Collato’s Top Tips For a Successful Workation

If we had to chose our top three tips for planning a killer workation, it would be these:

1. Pick an epic but practical location

We mentioned this a bit already, but a work-friendly location is super important for a successful workation. We would suggest choosing an area that's outside of a busy city. The chaos and noice might distract you and counteract your relaxed workation. Barat was the perfect place because it was peaceful and quiet, but also easily accessible to nearby towns and cities.

☝️ One thing to keep in mind is the WIFI connection at your accommodation. Luckily we could do the bulk of our work without it (or with a hotspot), but that was by far the biggest productivity killer we experienced.

2. Set realistic expectations

Effectively managing your expectations for a workation takes time to master. If you overestimate your team's ability, then it'll lead to missed delivery dates, reduced work quality, and overall stress. So make sure you set goals that are motivating and realistic

On our workation, we didn't work on our daily tasks like we would at the office. Based on four goals; do more with less clicks, put a smile on users face, give more guidance, and be more on brand, we came up with ways we could improve our product. Every task created from this brainstorm was worth a certain amount of points (most tasks were 2 points). And if enough tasks were completed and implemented, the team would receive a prize.

40 points - Food and drinks paid for by Collato

50 points - A boat trip to see dolphins

60 points - A guaranteed workation next year

🎉Together we reached the 60 points!🎉

This point system was not only super motivating and required tons of teamwork, but it also set the expectations for the trip based on what the team saw as a priority.

3. Plan your time wisely

To avoid any awkwardness, it's probably smart to create a loose plan for the day. Depending on your excursions or anything else you have planned, your working day might look different one day compared to the next.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • How many hours will you work per day?
  • What is the best way to divide your time?
  • Is your team more productive in the morning, afternoon or evening?
  • Will you work in sprints or using the waterfall methodology?

For us, 'typical' workday schedule looked something like this:

8:30am -For the highly motivated, there was a short (but intense) workout before breakfast. The rest of us sipped coffee off the terrace, went for a quick swim or even slept in.

9:15am- Breakfast was prepared by a sweet woman named Sandra. Sometimes she even whipped up a scramble with local fresh produce. We all ate and cleaned up breakfast together.

10:00am - After breakfast, we slowly made our way to the workhouse to start the day.

2:00pm - Lunch time was never set in stone, but we ate sometime in the late afternoon. We never missed out on a snack break in between!

4:00pm- We finished up the workday between 4:00pm and 5:00pm, depending on what we had planned afterwards. Some nights after work we explored nearby towns, beaches, and restaurants, and other nights we stayed home and swam, played games, and cooked together.

Overall this schedule worked well for the team. We could ‘work’ during the day, but also had plenty of time to ‘ation’ as well.

Workations Are Everything

So it turns out that workations definitely live up to the hype. We hope that this blog gave you some inspiration and confidence to plan a workation of your own. If you want more details on the Collato workation, check out our fun blog (with tons of pictures!) "A Slice of Collato's Workation to Croatia: A Poem."

🍦 Related topics you may be interested in:

1. The Fine Art of Laziness: how taking breaks makes you more productive

2. How to Recover from Burnout: Recharge in 10 Steps

3. A Short Guide to Creative Workflow Management