Unplugging to reboot – exploring Kasol’s workations

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Mon Jan 23, 2023

The one thing nobody mentions when talking about starting a corporate journey is the need to be constantly “on”. While this may be a dream come true for all the workaholics determined to make their mark as soon as they step their foot in the door, for a happy-go-lucky person (like yours truly), this approach is far from a perfect day. In April 2021, when I joined my first firm, I quickly realized that being the junior-most employee in the team meant I had to forfeit my right to free time. Often, I was the first to log in and the last to log out. Even though our office boasted of every luxury known to mankind – from a gaming room to a fully functional kitchen, one could find anything and everything, except an off switch. As expected, I started to get burnt out soon. However, one particular day, when the office walls couldn’t become any more boring, I decided to follow in my manager’s footsteps, and try out these so-called “workations”. A workation (work+vacation) consists of staying at a private or shared lodging and attending office virtually, essentially working and vacationing together.

Fueled by this new source of motivation, I fired up TripAdvisor. Within an hour, I booked a bus and a Zostel (shared hostel for solo travelers) for a week at Kasol, a paradise-like village in North India, famous for its treks, multi-cuisine food, and the roaring Parvati River. After a year spent between four walls, the change can only be described as pure bliss. In contrast to tapping my ID card at the office gates, my day started with a cacophony of a thousand chirping birds, and the Himalayas blowing cold air on my face. Instead of the office’s burnt omelet, undercooked bread, and pulpy juice, my breakfast consisted of freshly brewed coffee and cuisines spanning India’s rich culture. Carrying my exhausted self to the cubicle was replaced with setting up a standing desk overlooking a valley, listening to the constant office banter was substituted with the roar of Parvati River, and staring at the same faces was swapped for new solo travelers every day, everyone united in their mission to disengage from the corporate shackles.

When the work was overwhelming, I would venture out on a new trek. Walking on a flimsy bridge to cross a furious river surrounded by gushing waters, and unique animal sounds did wonders for my thought process and helped me focus on my work. In addition to the newfound motivation, I realized that traveling alone presents the opportunity to make new friends, and indeed that’s what happened – since mostly everyone stayed alone, I met people not only from across India but even made some friends from France and Ireland, on a spiritual retreat to find themselves.  Sometimes when the stress was light, I would hop in a random café, have a beer, and code while listening to live bands. On multiple occasions, my clients requested me to stay back after calls, just so they could virtually explore Kasol as well.

Even though my workation was initially planned for a week, it got extended by a month. Overall, I explored Kasol, Tosh, Bir Billing, and Munnar. During this phase, my productivity increased, my stress levels dropped drastically, and I even made long-lasting connections. Towards the end, I was looking forward to going to the office again. I realized that unplugging from my physical office allowed me to reboot mentally, and I emerged having improved my professional and personal skills.

 

 

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2023 - Spring - Issue 1
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