Italian hotels champions of workstations for teleworkers hungry for travel

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When I video call Edoardo Giuntoli, General Manager of the five-star Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese hotel, he is sitting on the hotel’s rooftop terrace with the Roman skyline as a backdrop that could easily be mistaken for with a Zoom background. During our interview, he casually points to the Quirinal Palace below and waves a nonchalant hand at the Vatican. “This location stimulates the creativity of workers, doesn’t it? He laughed, pointing to the tempting rack of expensive bubbles behind him that could serve as a thirst-quencher after work. Sofitel Rome is capitalizing on the growing trend of “work vacations,” a new concept of vacations that capitalizes on the growth of remote working amid the pandemic. Instead of working from a guest bedroom hastily converted into a home office, workstations allow telecommuters to do business from some of the most beautiful places in the world while maximizing their free time.

Recent studies have shown that Americans are working longer hours than ever before. Working from home during COVID shutdowns has exacerbated the phenomenon, with a wait for 24-hour connectivity and an inevitable increase in worker burnout. Last year, about 42% of the US workforce worked from home and was vulnerable to the damaging confusion between work and play that comes with it. In an attempt to turn this situation into something beneficial, the workcation (sometimes spelled “workation”) was born. “This is the perfect scenario, given the number of companies that work from home, to combine a good vacation with a pleasant environment and work,” explains Giuntoli.

The idea of ​​the workcation is not to book a vacation and then spoil it by bringing paperwork – in other words, it’s not in lieu of an actual vacation – but to work in a different environment. . Working from home for long periods of time has a mental impact, often manifesting as a feeling of isolation due to the loss of social interaction with co-workers. In response to the fatigue of teleworking, the workstations offer a total change of scenery without nibbling away precious vacation days. Susie Ellis, CEO of the Global Wellness Institute, told CNBC that working from different locations can improve mental well-being. “Academics have actually studied the impact of sabbaticals on well-being, whether it’s the traditional one-year academic variety or a sabbatical of a month or more,” a- she declared. “Research indicates [they] decrease people’s stress, improve general well-being and help people work more creatively.

As such, hotels offer tailored work packages to ensure a stay that is both productive and enjoyable. Sofitel Rome’s 14-day minimum option provides basic necessities such as a fast and reliable internet connection. In addition to this, the hotel offers a variety of work locations, including hotel suites with outdoor spaces, the rooftop restaurant, meeting rooms for a more formal environment, and the lobby (with champagne bar). .

The real benefit, however, is how you spend your downtime after work. Rather than collapsing on the sofa to watch unwanted TV shows, workers can either put on their tourist hats and explore the Italian capital, or take advantage of the anti-stress services at Sofitel Rome. To see Rome’s highlights with limited time, the hotel offers a walking tour of the Eternal City (luckily with a walking option as well) and virtual concierge service. Alternatively, there are yoga sessions in the nearby Villa Borghese park, pasta-making classes with hotel chef Giuseppe D’Alessio or Italian lessons.

For Liliana Mascolo of Hotel Poseidon, a four-star family-run hotel in Positano on the Amalfi Coast, the idea of ​​offering workstations came almost by accident. Mascolo takes care of public relations and communications and is also the daughter of Monica Aonzo, who owns the hotel with her brother Marco Aonzo. During the forced closure under Italian coronavirus regulations, Mascolo and his sister found themselves working at various locations around the hotel. “If someone like the lawyer or the accountant needed to use the office, which means we couldn’t be there too, we would move to hotel rooms to work,” Mascolo explains. Computer in tow, they would bicker, as siblings tend to do, over which rooms offered the best views of Positano’s dizzying waterfall of pretty white houses.

It struck the two sisters that it was a rather pleasant way of working remotely, and that’s how they started offering official work packages when the hotel reopened. The hotel now has mobile work equipment – a monitor, keyboard, laptop stand, mouse, and ergonomic chair – which can be installed in most rooms. So the teleworker can tap while regularly enjoying the sunny view of Positano’s flowery cityscape and the gentle breeze through the balcony doors.

The hotel has 50 rooms and suites in total, all with interesting quirks and perks due to the piecemeal expansion of the structure from the family home to the hotel. Some of the bedroom terraces are expansive, with lounge chairs that require remote workers to exercise strict self-control. In others, a picture window in the bedroom allows you to read e-mails early in the morning between drafts of the picturesque panorama. Alternatively, the bar’s expansive terrace offers plenty of quiet spots to set up a laptop.

Mascolo says the workstation idea really took off. “I remember walking past a photographer by the pool editing his photos from a recent wedding,” she recalls, as a real estate agent wrote listings for homes thousands of miles away.

Once guests are done with the day there is the swimming pool with panoramic views or the beauty center to get rid of all thoughts of work before a signature cocktail on the terrace and a dinner of sophisticated Neapolitan-inspired dishes at the hotel restaurant, Il Tridente. While the Sofitel Rome leans more towards the long-stay guest, Hotel Poseidon also considered a day worker option. Their Dayscapes offer rooms without an overnight stay, but with access to the pool, on-site restaurant and lounge bar, and full access to a private in-room workstation.

Italian start-up DayBreakHotels, which started out as a pioneer in daycation, has also started offering packages for day workers in hotels across Italy. Hotel rooms can be booked for half days, full days and even full working weeks. On the startup’s website, users can also select add-ons such as gym or spa access. DayBreakHotels co-founder and CEO Simon Botto told Startups Magazine: “The idea behind the concept of ‘workcation’ is that anyone can trade a day at the home office for the peace and quiet of the day. ‘a hotel nearby. By making luxury rooms and facilities accessible at affordable daily rates, we hope to give a nation of exhausted telecommuters a well-deserved getaway without even taking a day off. “

A relatively recent phenomenon, it can still be difficult to organize a workstation. While employees are no longer attached to the workplace, that doesn’t necessarily mean employers will be willing to take off for a week. CNBC suggests approaching your boss armed with data on workstation benefits and examples of other companies accepting the option. Once the negotiation is successful, however, it is also important to set firm work / leisure time limits before you leave and to be clear when you will be available.

As Giuntoli artfully points out, here the time zone differences could work to your advantage. Taking New York as an example, which is six hours behind Rome, Giuntoli notes that workers can spend a morning and lunch spending “quality time” as a vacationer while using the afternoon as “time. productive ”.

Ultimately, remote working isn’t going to go away anytime soon. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 54% of employees said they would choose to continue working from home after the pandemic is over. Companies such as Google, Twitter, Dropbox, and Slack have announced plans to switch to remote or hybrid work for good after the pandemic. So if nomadic telecommuting continues to be the norm, why not do business knowing that after work you can sip an aperitif with a view of the Dome of St. Peter in Rome or taste a local wine from the Amalfi coast while watching the sunset in Positano.


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