After all, weekday hotel demand in the top 25 U.S. travel markets during the first full week of February 2022 was only 76% of what it was in the comparable week of 2019, according to hospitality data analytics group STR. These days, 50% of people say they bring their work laptops on vacation, according to a December 2021 Expedia survey of 14,500 working adults. The survey also found that 41% say they frequently join Zoom calls on vacation.
A rising number of people have been able to embrace the digital nomad lifestyle as a result of the epidemic. However, for many people, working remotely as a full-time traveller is unattainable. Instead, laptop lugging is a kind of “digital nomad lite,” allowing you to reap many of the benefits of digital nomadism without totally abandoning your home base. In 2020, hotels began offering “work from anywhere” packages with lower rates and benefits including meals, premium Wi-Fi, separate workplaces, and occasionally child care. As vacancy rates continue to rise, similar packages are still available.
Laptop luggers typically stay longer in their destinations, meaning more revenue for hotels. Deloitte’s survey found that working travelers are twice as likely to increase their travel budgets from 2019 versus those who completely disconnect. Longer stays can also help hotels that have cut housekeeping services save even more money. Rather than the typical pre-pandemic five-day tropical vacation, laptop luggers might spend three weeks away. But on this trip, you might send messages before a sunrise surf session, after which you resume your usual 9-to-5 work grind. Evenings enable you to explore new neighborhoods and eateries without the pressure to cram every experience into just a few days.
Laptop lugging becomes even more common during the holidays. According to Deloitte’s 2021 holiday travel survey of about 6,500 Americans, laptop luggers planned two to four trips in the period from Thanksgiving 2021 to mid-January 2022. That’s twice as many trips as the one or two trips planned among people who entirely disconnect on vacation.
“Being able to take a longer vacation and work during it means more time to recharge while expanding your travel options,” Alexis says. “If you only had one week off, flying internationally isn’t practical. You lose at least two days to travel and may be jet-lagged the entire trip. With laptop lugging, you could stay as long as you like.”
Other laptop luggers might prefer frequent, shorter trips. They might return home to repack and refresh their laundry supply and then opt for workcationing from an Airbnb for a change of scenery. Given his role as CEO at virtual events company TeamBuilding, Michael Alexis is no stranger to supporting productivity anywhere in the world.
“In a world of increasing flexibility and digitization, companies can look after their workforces where each individual is,” he says. “For individuals who like to take as much time off as possible and completely disconnect, no problem. For employees who like to be tuned in, it’s important for companies to encourage breaks and time off, but to do so in a creative and supportive way.” Meanwhile, Alexis’ company has implemented policies to ameliorate issues.
“The employee must have a clear distinction between work time and vacation time,” he says. “We’ve had employees travel and claim that they’re available via phone, which isn’t intentional work time and doesn’t meet expectations.” Among TeamBuilding’s rules: Employees must clearly define work versus vacation hours, and work hours must entail a stable, reliable internet connection (so shaky airplane connectivity likely wouldn’t suffice). But Alexis says laptop lugging has generally been positive for his more than 100-person staff.