SINGAPORE – One couple, two hotels, 15 days of “workation”. What did I do to deserve this?
When my husband broached the idea of a working staycation last month, my heart leapt the way it does when he says we have enough miles for business class.
After seven months without a holiday, we were desperate for a change of scenery.
Besides, working from home had become unbearable, thanks to the aural assault of jackhammers and excavators from our neighbour’s ambitious rebuilding project, which spanned three houses.
My husband was not allowed to return to the office then, but hotels had begun opening up for staycays, which proved fortuitous as corporate rates were very attractive.
We stayed at a four-star hotel in Beach Road for five days and another 10 days at a five-star hotel off Orchard Road.
As I gleefully packed travel-size toiletries, I pictured myself lounging poolside with my laptop and taking long bubble baths between inspired bouts of creativity. A working staycay would be the closest I could get to being a digital nomad without abandoning my teenagers (who, as it turned out, hardly noticed I was out of the house).
After the initial euphoria of checking out the room – Filtered tap water! Four types of tea! L’Occitane bath gel! – we both hunkered down to work.
Invariably, one of us would get the better chair and the other would risk a neck-ache by working at the coffee table or on the bed.
My husband, whose frequent overseas trips for his tech job have been replaced by a mind-numbing itinerary of conference calls starting as early as 7am and sometimes ending past midnight, likes to blast his calls through his portable speaker.
That was not an issue at home when I could work in the study, but with both of us confined to a room, it began to grate on my nerves.
We eventually settled into a workation routine: an early morning swim followed by work and more work, punctuated by quick trips out for a bite.
As the days merged with one another, sourcing for all our meals became a chore and I felt a twinge of envy every time I saw other guests having fun at the facilities while I was on my way back to work.
My fantasy of working poolside never materialised – I forgot I’d have to wear a mask in the heat and queue for a lounge bed.
To my husband, who is used to working out of a suitcase anywhere in the world, the workation was simply another day in the office.
To me, the land-bound spouse, a hotel stay means so much more. It romances your senses, immerses you in indulgence and makes you feel special. Working from a hotel for one day was novel and exciting, but working from one for half a month became tedious and claustrophobic at times.
What I should have done was take a day off and break out of my gilded cage: use the spa, explore the neighbourhood and splurge on a hotel dinner or poolside lunch.
Just as working from home has insidiously eaten into precious family time and “me” time, all work and no play takes the fun out of an extended workation.
At the same time, I would love to see workation packages that include massage perks, ergonomic desks and chairs for a couple, and in-room breakfasts that are value for money instead of just plain overpriced.
With many of us still expected to work from home well into next year, a thoughtfully curated workation package might just be what Zoom-fatigued executives need to keep them motivated.
Well, at least that’s what I’ll be pitching to my husband for another working staycay. Wish me luck.
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