Today we’ve got another guest blog, this one’s written by Joe Goerbert. Founder and CEO of the BrainHive business plan writing service and its affiliated digital marketing agency. Joe has participated in roughly half a dozen workations since 2015 and says he’ll continue to participate in more, with his goal being at least one every six months. Take it away Joe!
Leave the burden of organizing such distinguished occasions in capable hands and try it out, if you haven’t yet. If you have, you might want to still read this article to learn how to make most of those precious, special days that will leave you in a sweet state of inspired rapture and boosted confidence.
In the past two years, no other investment in my business has brought me greater return in so many ways. It is therefore with great pleasure and gratitude for the opportunity that I may present you the subsequent ideas and encourage you to go forth and see for yourself. My name is Joe Goerbert from BrainHive Business Planning, and these are my thoughts on why workations are the best thing since sliced bread.
During my participation in various workations I have experienced fluctuations as to what is included, but to this day I have never been dissatisfied with the accommodations, the food or the general extras such as trips, resident services, invited speakers etc. Sometimes, when the locations were relatively remote and groups were relatively large, consistently good Wifi availability remained a challenge, but was always easily or elegantly overcome.
If you knock off the costs for what you would usually pay for a comparable accommodation and all the physical services enjoyed during the workation, you will usually already find that 30-40% of the total workation price are already accounted for. Keep in mind that it is also hard to know how much time was needed for the preparation and organization or if perhaps other resources of the organizers (such as staff or contacts) had to be taxed in the process of planning and executing the workation.
Do not forget that often the organizers have to pay a lot of things beforehand, yet they have fixed prices for the participants. That means that if they cannot book the workation fully, they might incur a financial loss or barely break even. This risk is real and needs to be priced into the workation, or the offer cannot be sustained in the long run. Oftentimes both late cancellations of participants and spontaneous complications with the accommodation or the amenities can cause organizers a fair amount of stress. One more thing you don’t have to deal with – you just lie back and enjoy the ride, which is a huge value.
Ideally, there will be an application process if you want to participate in the workation. This process, which actually isn’t in the monetary interest of the organizer looking to book the workation fully, ensures that the most important quality factor of the workation is assured.
The composition of the people participating is the strongest influence on which type of workation will actually take place. I have seen workations which were advertised as more of a re-creative experience turned into powerhouses of productivity and I have seen the exact opposite happening, and it was because of the focus or lenience of the participants, which eventually override anything the organizers thought of pushing.
The more exclusive workations tend to bring together a flock of a more exclusive feather. This translates directly into the quality of the conversations that you will be having as well as the take-aways of the workshops and other programmed formats of know-how transfer and mutual support in business aspects. It is also not rare for workation participants to enter in direct business transactions and cooperation which naturally tend to be of greater value the more experienced your colleagues and the more developed their business operations are.
A well-organized workation feels a lot like a field trip with the school. Constant interaction with peers, limited but quality amounts of non-programmed time, not much sleep and that warm, fuzzy feeling of having everything being taken care of. But due to the fact that you will be drawn together usually with people you don’t know at first (sometimes even in shared dormitories), it could also mean that at the beginning or during the experience you will feel slightly alienated. This from personal experience I can state to more so be true, if there are already things ruffling your feathers, such as having to deal with a difficult client or a weak month of business. Be on the lookout for that moody mood!
No matter what occasions arise and what kind of conversations and interactions you end up having with the other participants, you will get the most return of investment if you maintain an upbeat and positive attitude, which at times could mean that you must remain patient and diplomatic even if stroked against the grain.
Try adding to the experience as much as you can, bring your musical instruments, your juggling, arts/crafts and sports equipment, work and presentation equipment or your objects of show and tell. It will go a long way of adding value for all to share.
When donating knowledge in the form of workshops and master mind rounds, try and be fully present and put yourself in the shoes of the person which is receiving your input. The way you are perceived in these moments could be deciding whether or not there will be reciprocity. When comes your turn to receive, your fellow participants will hopefully go that extra mile to have your back.
This positive group dynamic will also make it easier to form meaningful friendships that last beyond the duration of the workation, which easily can turn out to be a return of immeasurable value. Me personally, I have a good dozen of invitations to all parts of the world because of friends I made during a workation, and I have gotten recommendations for clients, marketing opportunities and hires months after concluding the workation. Depending on which niche you’re from, that already can be worth hundreds if not thousands of Euro.
With all the moving parts, no two workations are ever alike. It needs to be understood that the outcome and the exact monetary value take-away of any given workation is not completely in the hands of the organizers, but also depends on external factors ranging from weather to behaviorisms of the accommodation providers, guides/trainers and service staff. The workation that consisted completely of working might surprisingly not turn out as productive as the workation where you had that one random golden 1:1 conversation by a beer and a rack of ribs that makes you skip light years ahead of your competition. And trust me, latter happens more easily than you might think, especially when you don’t look for it!
You have to do your homework and it’s good to be aware of what you want to get out of the workation. For some nomads, this could also mean honing your presentation skills and having the opportunity to talk in front of a lot of people that you can trust not to judge you harshly, because they are colleagues. How often do you have the opportunity? We are still a rare exception in the global village, and I find most nomads to be very unique and capable people. Yet, we are also very heterogeneous, and this adds to the need to define who we are and what we can give each other.
Come with a plan and be ready to abandon that plan at a moment’s notice. Be a reflection of that golden skill of improvising from which our movement drew its first breaths of life and which continues to enable it to survive against the odds. Stationary, established businesses with stationary, specialized infrastructure often have client acquisition and operative performance advantages over us which we must try and level with all instruments available to us. Do not be rigid, do not insist: Be water, my friend, and tap into the abundance which is made available to us when we realize the full potential in our grasp if we cooperate smartly.
As the global location independent movement gains traction so will the workation formats available to us scale in dimensions and complexity. Every workation is a chance to build more and tighter bonds between members of our movement. Because this is so, participating in workations is almost non-optional: See it as a form of community pilgrimage, where we worship the collective boundlessness of individual greatness.
I am excited for the future, and happy to make available to our deserving influencers my share of the resources needed to shape this future. It is my privilege as a serious business nomad to be able to do so. I very much wish for the average workation to come to hold much more value through a thorough understanding of ideal attitude, perhaps slightly more stringent scheduled activity and generally a higher degree of professionalism when it comes to joining forces. I’m convinced we have as of now only touched the surface of what is possible, and through combined effort, we will yet see the digital nomad movement empowered beyond our wildest dreams.
Striving to quicken the development of the remote work movement to his best ability, Joe is available for consultation if you have any ideas you’d like to bounce off him! Drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Toni: Honestly, we have skillsets that you don’t usually find in developers. Because we've had lives that were not just about computer science. I think to some extent this is what makes us different.
Martin: I believe one of the reasons why people pick us over other studios is because it can be very hard working with developers. If you’re not understanding their work, if the communication is not flowing, you, as a client can feel lost. We're easy to communicate with and we’re always open to feedback and we're open to discuss anything. In the end, after all iterations, if you say we need to start the website from scratch and that you don’t like the idea, we won’t take it personally.
Alex: Also, I think, since we all work as coding teachers, we are officially qualified to explain what coding is to people who don't code, which is actually really rare because a lot of developers, as Martin says, don't want to, or literally just don't know how to articulate what they're doing. Whereas we are trained in articulating what it is that we're doing, why it's meaningful and why it takes a certain amount of time.
Alex: Zimt & Mehl - the Turkish bakery around the corner. It’s just soo good.
Martin: Oh, there is this Italian restaurant called Ristorante del Arte
Tony: Oh, my God, this place is so funny. It looks like a pretty average Italian restaurant, but the whole interior design inside is just decorated in such a weird way. The entire place is covered in frescoes. They have crystal chandeliers and Easter bunnies. Some Greek columns. It has a different name on the menu, on the side and on the Internet. And it was an ex-shoe-store.
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