How working while traveling recreationally actually boosts employee productivity
in April 2022, Airbnb’s CEO, Brian Chesky, announced that Airbnb will be allowing employees to work remotely indefinitely, and that they can spend up to 3 months working outside the country. It was headline news in the business community.
I was quite happy to see it make the news, as I have been a proponent of encouraging employee travel while they work remotely since I started my previous company. At Grovia, we provided a $500 flight credit to every employee on their 1 year anniversary. While this credit could be used for any type of trip (visiting family, vacation, etc.), we encouraged our employees to use it to work remotely from a new location.
This might sound a bit counter-intuitive… Why would anyone want their employees to travel to a place where they could be more easily distracted and harder to manage?
Well, it turns out there are a number of benefits to building a team of digital nomads. In this article, I am going to break down the 3 reasons you should let your team travel and work remotely. Below are the ways that traveling and working remotely produce better team members and stronger work output.
Employees are more engaged and fulfilled with frequent travel
It is not surprising to hear, but workplace fulfillment has been proven to improve employee performance and engagement.
For decades, managers and leaders have been introducing strategies into the office to increase employee fulfillment at work – whether that is better goal-setting, increased recognition, improved performance reviews, pizza parties, in-office massage, counseling, etc.
These strategies range from impactful to marginal in providing employees with increased fulfillment. Many of these strategies have become the standard, and do not provide net-new fulfillment for fresh employees that have recently job hopped.
So, how does a leader in today’s age go above and beyond to encourage fulfilling lives for their employees? The answer lies a bit outside the workplace.
Employees that report having a fulfilling life outside the workplace have increased engagement and better performance.
One of the easiest ways to encourage fulfilling lives outside the workplace is by providing ample opportunity to travel – not just during PTO. A Taiwanese study published in 2021 showed that people who traveled more frequently reported greater fulfillment and quality of life.
Travel makes you a better person
Travel has been shown to improve confidence, empathy, problem-solving, creativity, and trust.
A more confident, autonomous team allows for leadership development and less reliance on management. Creative teams that are better at problem-solving will overcome obstacles faster and reach goals sooner. A more empathetic and trusting workforce will collaborate more easily and will lead to happier teams. Thus, it’s apparent that helping your team members improve these traits can lead to some significant leaps in workforce productivity.
Every leader should want to see their team improve as people because better people are better employees. Travel has been shown to help people develop powerful traits that ultimately translate to better workplace performance.
A strong digital nomad policy will help you attract & retain Talent
The infamous ‘Great Resignation’ began during the early years of the Covid era, and has plagued companies that have failed to adapt to modern company culture. Late Millennials and Gen Z have started to demand freedom and autonomy in their roles. It’s common to hear the horror stories of CEOs and leaders that have become alienated from their workforce and declared that all remote workers must come back to the office.
In roles where remote work is 100% feasible, employees no longer buy-in to the commute-to-the-office-everday charade. It’s common today for job searchers to filter only by remote-only roles. Incumbent employees who have worked in the office for decades may begin the job search for remote work.
It’s nearly common knowledge now that companies and leaders that fail to embrace this culture-shift will miss out on in-demand talent and face increased churn. So – how can companies go one step further to differentiate themselves from other remote companies?
The encouragement of travel!
In many modern remote work environments, there is a strange culture surrounding traveling while working abroad. Working from a location that is not your home is often misconstrued as unproductive. By instead building a culture that not only permits travel while working, but actually encourages it can go a significant way in attracting and retaining talent. It feels like a cheat code. Grovia’s first job posting had over 120 applicants in the first few hours – and our subsequent job posts surpassed these numbers.
We had a strong digital nomad policy, and it made a world of difference in growing and maintaining our headcount.
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Conclusion & Where to Learn More
There is a burgeoning community from across the world that has experienced first-hand the benefits of working while traveling, and encouraging employees to do the same (NomadX is a great example of this). These communities can be fantastic resources for learning more about instituting a strong digital nomad policy. You can also book a free call with me here to learn more about my experience.