Workation continues in practical test mode

Workation options are in demand and retain employees. However, employers are still not aware enough of the latter, nor which employees rely on it. Moreover, employees do not sufficiently inform their superiors about workation activities. A PwC study provides insights into current discrepancies on the trend topic of workation.” Sylvie Konzack

Workation on their own: In the study, more than one in ten (14 per cent) stated that they had not informed their employer about their cross-border work before or after the workation trip. Accordingly, the authors suspect a high number of unauthorised work stays abroad and the associated high risks for employers with regard to tax, labour and social security issues. Depending on the country, additional taxes may be incurred by the company because a permanent establishment is created in the country of residence or the employer is subject to a wage tax withholding obligation. Missing registrations under insurance law can also lead to major losses. “Even when staying in European countries, there are pitfalls lurking that companies should always check in advance,” says Jana-Denise Weber, Director at PwC Germany. In December 2022, the auditing and consulting firm had 1,000 professionals from 15 industries aged between 18 and 65 years old surveyed online for the study “Workation between desire and reality”. The companies of the respondents were all based in Germany and their activities could basically be carried out in a home office.

So, as with a business trip, every employee must inform his employer in advance about his workation plans and obtain permission. But at the same time, companies must develop travel guidelines for remote work trips and make them transparent. Here, too, there is a gap: Four out of ten employees who are generally allowed to use workation are not aware of the applicable regulations. Yet this is precisely what is important if companies want to position themselves more attractively with workation offers and actively integrate this into their employer branding and recruiting.

Spain and Italy on top

This raises the constantly evolving question: Who currently wants to use Workation services? And why?
72 percent of the respondents say that location-independent and also cross-border working makes it possible to visit relatives and friends abroad – this is especially interesting for internationally active companies. Even more (76 percent) say that this increases their productivity and job satisfaction (79 percent). Workation is also understood as a winter escape – the most frequently mentioned destinations for workation are Spain (37 percent) and Italy (32 percent), followed by Austria (28 percent), Greece (25 percent) and France (23 percent).

Under 40s want more than homeoffice

For two of the three interviewees, workation is a possibility in principle. Especially professionals who are younger than 40 years old often want to work independently of location – even across borders. In the sense of hybrid working, they want more than just home office options.
A total of 80 per cent would use a workstation to extend a private holiday by a few days, in a sense the reverse bleisure principle. And just as many (81 per cent) would welcome employer-financed workation, which should come as little surprise when asked about it. Finally, 77 percent said that it would be attractive to “work from anywhere” in a property owned by the employer abroad.

Among the 18 to 29 year-olds and thus the strongest workation group, 35 percent had been abroad once, 27 percent several times, among the 30 to 39 year-olds it is 37 (once) and 17 (several times) percent respectively.

Across all age groups, 42 percent of respondents have work experience. A good one in four (26 per cent) have worked remotely from abroad at least once, and 16 per cent have done so several times – especially men: while one in two of them has already worked internationally remotely one or more times, only one in three women has done so.

Broken down by industry group, workation stays once or several times are significantly less common in the public sector (12 and 10 per cent once and several times respectively) than in industry (29 and 18 per cent respectively), services (28 and 18 per cent respectively) and trade and consumer goods (25 and 14 per cent respectively). In detail, most people in the automotive industry (39 percent), in technology, media and telecommunications (39 percent) and in financial services (36 percent) have already been in a workation once. With several workations, the “technology, media and telecommunications” sector is clearly in the lead (28 percent).

In general, there is a tendency: those who can work from home at any time anyway, without having to coordinate this, count the most workation stays (38 percent once, 19 percent several times in workation).

But the use of workation options is also related to the household net income. Only from 2,000 euros to under 4,000 euros does workation become an issue (15 percent). In the next two higher groups (up to 6,000 euros and more), the figure was a good fifth in each case (21 percent).

And interestingly, multi-person households with children currently make up the largest group that has undertaken workation at least once (36 percent).

How many workation days do comapanies allow and where?

If working from abroad is permitted, the employers of the respondents in the study allow an average of 30 days per year. The respondents, in turn, wanted an average of 45 days – that is about 50 per cent more than is currently allowed as a rule.

Around one in two (52 per cent) are currently allowed to work on a mobile basis from abroad. For the majority of them (36 per cent), this is permitted within the European Union, for about one in six employees also outside the EU.

Companies with more than 1,000 employees tend to allow their employees to work mobile from abroad more often: Within the EU, 39 per cent compared to 33 per cent of smaller companies; outside the EU, 20 per cent compared to 12 per cent.

Two-thirds of employees primarily inform their supervisors about their workation plans, one-third and/or the HR department, this mainly in the larger companies (44 percent) than in smaller ones (29 percent). In turn, 13 percent do not know whom to inform.

For the study authors, one thing is clear: it is now a matter of using the flexible working models as an advantage and clearly communicating their possibilities in the company. For eight out of ten respondents under 40, workation is important when choosing a job. “If employers do not offer mobile working and workation, they will have an even more difficult time

to find new skilled workers,” Daniel Lafrentz, Director at PwC Germany, is convinced. Yet for one third of those surveyed, their employers do not allow workation. This is especially true in smaller companies with fewer than 1,000 employees and in the public sector – here more than half cite a ban (52 percent). And: 15 percent of employees simply do not know whether they have the option.

Sylvie Konzack …

also says: Every company today must position itself on the topic and be legally secure in all directions. This is how workation becomes practicable. She finds the study’s finding that families, men and high earners in particular also use workation interesting, and that the cliché of the unattached, highly demanding young professional is not the only one that applies to this topic.

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