Mobility trends: Working on holiday, or on holiday at work?

Covid-19 has changed not just how work happens, but also where work takes place, as Chief of Staff Asia’s latest research paper on talent mobility has identified.

Recognising that employees can now complete tasks in the office, at home, and anywhere in between, companies are embracing short-term and even more extended “work-cations” as an alternative to traditional corporate travel. This growing trend for longer business trips, which began prior to 2020, has made it easier for employees to incorporate extra leisure time at the beginning or end of an assignment.

Indeed, some companies have allowed their employees to work anywhere in the world, for as long as they like. Nilay Khandelwal, Managing Director of Michael Page Singapore (pictured, below right), says this policy change is becoming widely accepted in many companies. “In some cases, the threshold has gone up to the point where ‘remote’ can be in the same city, a different city, or even a different country,” he notes.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed by the scores of business development and tourism authorities across Southeast Asia and beyond. The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Tokyo office recently introduced a ‘Blecation’ campaign, combining the b-leisure concepts of pre-Covid-19 business travel with the “stay-cations” that have become so popular ever since.

Seksan Sripraiwan, director of the campaign, says this has been driven by the need to create new opportunities that offer value to both the travelling employee and the business they represent. “Our strategy aims to attract both companies and ordinary tourists to Thailand, with designated locations meant for essential meetings, as well as time for relaxing.”

Other countries are likely to follow suit, with Indonesia also seeing the potential in offering “work-cations” as part of their visitor promotion efforts. “Compared to the past, business trips are seen as an opportunity to engage in an element of leisure, whether part of the event programme or as a personal extension,” observes Cindy Lie, executive director of Bali-based Infinity Holiday.

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Chief of Staff Asia