The craze for “workcations” is not new, but the Covid-19 crisis turbo-charged the trend in France.
“It no longer affects only digital freelancers, but also employees who understand that with a good connection you can work anywhere,” Alexandre Morel, senior analyst at the mobility consultancy group Cooptalis, told Le Parisien, a French daily newspaper.
Even as many employees are being called back to the office, a number of businesses are betting that long-distance teleworking — from national or international vacation hotspots — will be a lasting trend, the newspaper reports.
According to a survey Cooptalis conducted in May of 500 French companies, 86 percent had received one or more requests for long-distance teleworking. Seventy-four percent of businesses approved them.
It’s a request that arises mostly at small and medium-size enterprises (83 percent), rather than large corporations, Morel told the publication.
Geographically, French workers do not necessarily seek destinations on the other side of the globe. The majority prefer French locales, though 41 percent request stays abroad, often in countries bordering France (Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg), but also North Africa, Dubai and Latin America, according to the consultancy’s study.
Betting on the durability of the trend
Some businesses are counting on the sustainability of the phenomenon, Le Parisien said.
In July 2020, the Pierre & Vacances group launched a teleworking promotion, now available at 80 destinations in France. A study conducted by the holiday-rental company found that “a third of executives and 31 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds plan to telecommute from a place usually reserved for holidays or weekends.”
As hybrid work takes hold in France, some employees will maintain the option to work outside the office, Le Parisien reports. And with that, some will want to work at a location that is more appealing than their usual four walls — such as a property with a view of the Picardie region’s Bay of Somme and its colony of seals, or Biarritz, France’s resort on the Basque coast, with its surf-ready waves.
“Employees want to take advantage of a pleasant working environment away from home,” Grégory Sion, CEO of Pierre& Vacances, told Le Parisien.
The group selected half of its available properties, or those with the best internet connections, to offer to long-distance teleworkers. It also has expanded its wifi coverage to the area around swimming pools and patios, though quiet, dedicated workspaces can also be reserved.
Other services, like Remoters, are offering teleworkers international rentals, Le Parisien noted.
Launched in April, this French site offers remote workers personalized service, with an on-site “remoter,” or local expert, who shows potential clients various accommodations by videoconference, tailored to the workers’ criteria.
These local guides offer tips and advice, “information that can’t be found on Google,” co-founder Damien Corchia told the publication.
The site proposes 70 destinations, with sunny ones being the most popular, according to Corchia: Rome, Barcelona, Lisbon, Sicily, Crete and the Canary Islands.
Stays are generally from one to six months at a price of 500 to 5,000 euros ($585 to $5850) per month.
Employers must accommodate workers — to some extent
Cooptalis’s Morel feels that companies will have to be flexible if their most valued employees want to travel the world while working.
“This is especially true in tech, where the talent shortage is accelerating dramatically,” the analyst told Le Parisien.
Still, this does not mean that employees have free rein. Workers must be careful to inform their employers of their whereabouts, the newspaper noted.
“The employer is responsible for the safety and health of its employees,” so a company must know of a worker’s telework location, even of short duration, Lyon labor lawyer Myriam Adjerad told the daily.
The lawyer recounted the story of an employee who neglected to tell her employer of her West Indies location, getting up in the middle of the night to attend work meetings.
She ended her workcation on the unemployment line.