By Sylvie Konzack

Remote, workation, bleisure travel - the new hybrid working world mixes the office with the home office and "working from anywhere". With their flexible booking options and comfort, serviced flats are the most suitable form of accommodation.

Even the Ifo Institute recently addressed the topic and reported in April 2023: 8 per cent of German companies currently offer their employees the opportunity to work at their holiday destination. 3.3 per cent of the employees in these companies have used this option so far. The results come from a survey of HR managers by the Ifo Institute and Randstad. Despite the still low numbers, both see a trend towards more workation.

PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers International) can also clearly confirm this. The study by the management consultancy "Workation between desire and reality" provides figures from the employee's point of view. According to the study, almost two-thirds of those surveyed (64 per cent) can imagine working abroad on a mobile basis for a certain period of time. This applies even more to men than to women. Especially for younger people, however, the topic of workation is important: among 18 to 29 year-olds, 81 percent can imagine a workation. Among 30-39 year-olds, the figure is 76 per cent.

Why do working people want workation offers?

The survey finds that 45 per cent would find it "very" and 35 per cent would find it "somewhat attractive" to extend private holidays by a few days. 72 per cent also see workation as a way to visit relatives and friends abroad, which presents many opportunities, especially for large, multinational companies, PwC said.

How many days are preferred for the combination of holiday and working abroad?

If the workers have their way, the majority favours a good 45 days a year. That is about 50 per cent more than the 30.3 days currently allowed on average. At the top of the list of destinations are typical holiday countries such as Spain (37 percent) and Italy (32 percent). Austria (28 percent), Greece (25 percent) and France (23 percent) follow at some distance. Workation is thus particularly attractive as a "winter escape" to the European south.

Which sectors are open to workation offers?

The industry (29 and 18 per cent), service (28 and 18 per cent) and trade and consumer goods (25 and 14 per cent) sectors offer significantly more single and multiple work assignments than, for example, the public sector (12 and 10 per cent). According to PwC, the automotive industry is considered a workation pioneer. Here, 72 per cent of the respondents stated that their employer allows work experience at least within the EU. This is closely followed by the technology, media and telecommunications sectors (69 percent) and the financial sector (62 percent). Bringing up the rear are retail and consumer goods (53 per cent), healthcare (47 per cent) and the public sector (23 per cent).

Where do the workers want to be accommodated?

The current Holiday Barometer by Ipsos/Europ Assistance Barometer asked about this and registered country-specific results (see chart below). Flats and hotels are among the most popular types of accommodation, the former especially in France and Italy. Serviced flats in particular allow flexible, short-term booking for a few days and weeks. They are usually larger than hotel rooms and have separate living, kitchen, sleeping and working areas. At the same time, they are cheaper with the length of stay because they usually offer fewer services and ancillary areas such as wellness and conference facilities.

And Bleisure Travel?

Airplus, for example, also sees the trend of extending business trips privately as a growing norm that is here to stay. According to a study by the payment service provider, 16.1 per cent of business travellers in 2022 have already started on a weekend and have thus consciously opted for bleisure stays. Other studies see millennials in particular as the drivers - in this age group, nine out of ten are said to have already had their first experience with Bleisure Travel. In order for companies to be able to make these offers to their employees, business travel management systems are increasingly trying to offer solutions for splitting invoices, among other things.

Interest and opportunities are increasing, the legal situation is still uncertain

The willingness of many companies for Bleisure and/or Workation is growing. This was also shown at the most recent conference of the business travel association VDR. At the moment, however, many companies are also confronted with urgent implementation questions, because different tax and social security laws etc. apply depending on the country, and also depending on the position in the company. Against this backdrop, the easiest option legally and in terms of implementation is workation in Germany. In Germany alone there are currently around 45,000 serviced flats, mainly in metropolises such as Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt and Hamburg, but also in an increasing number of smaller cities. Serviced flats are part of the accommodation market, including all the associated safety regulations such as those in hotels with regard to fire protection, etc., and VAT liability.

Apartmentservice offers a detailed overview of various flat options in Germany and worldwide. The team of the Berlin-based intermediary is in constant exchange with the travel management departments of companies and also advises on suitable workation and bleisure accommodation.