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WORKATION

Work with a view, somewhere new

Workation in Norway .
Photo: Innovasjon Norge/Arctic Innovation Week/Tja as
Workation in Norway .
Photo: Innovasjon Norge/Arctic Innovation Week/Tja as

Tired of your (home) office?

Pack your assignments in a suitcase and go on a working vacation – a workation!

The Arctic Coworking Lodge, Lofoten .
Photo: Sylvain Cochard / @sylvaincochardphotographer
The Arctic Coworking Lodge, Lofoten .
Photo: Sylvain Cochard / @sylvaincochardphotographer

Imagine sitting with your laptop overlooking glittering fjords, deep valleys or vast mountain plateaus, maybe even under the northern lights or the midnight sun.

Inspiration, check!

With splendid views, wild adventures and one of the world's fastest WiFi speeds, Norway is a safe bet for everyone who wants to combine work and leisure.

A booming trend

Workation, or "remote work", has become a major global trend. Until 2019, it was mostly freelancers, IT specialists and budding entrepreneurs who made up the majority of the so-called "digital nomads".

However, the corona pandemic has shown both employers and employees that a slightly untraditional office space can be a good alternative for many, as long as you follow the authorities' current guidelines.

"When I have a writer's block, I go for a walk to get inspiration. I can stand here on the shore and write inside me", says Katrine Sørgård.

Katrine Sørgård taking pictures on the Træna islands on the Helgeland coast, Northern Norway
Katrine Sørgård.
Photo: Christine Baglo / Visitnorway.com

She is a freelance journalist and photographer, and what we would call a true "digital nomad". To Sørgård, workation is almost like a lifestyle.

"I like to travel off the beaten track, and I am very fond of islands, such as Træna outside the Helgeland coast, Røst and Værøy in Lofoten, and the Varanger Peninsula in Finnmark."

"On workations, I find peace and get into a special flow", she says.

Remote office benefits

According to a survey by the Norwegian Institute of Transport Economics, 74 per cent of the respondents said they are "as efficient or more efficient at their home office than at work".

Many international studies show similar trends. In one of them, conducted by Stanford University and Chinese CTrip before the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the employees who worked from home for a period stated that:

  • They became much more efficient and worked more concentrated.
  • They became more satisfied with the balance between work and leisure.
  • They were less ill and stressed.
  • The company saved a lot of money on office facilities.

With findings like this, many researchers believe that various forms of home offices may become the new norm, even after the pandemic.

It opens up the possibility of taking your job to one of your bucket list destinations.

When you have free time, you can do what you love. Go skiing, hiking, or practise yoga.

Activities in Jotunheimen .
Photo: Sven-Erik Knoff / Fotoknoff
Activities in Jotunheimen .
Photo: Sven-Erik Knoff / Fotoknoff

It is not difficult at all, and if you travel outside the peak season, it does not have to be that expensive. It is simply an ideal way to experience some of the most spectacular places in Norway, without the crowds.

If you want to be at peace and have time to complete an important task, you can rent a fisherman's cabin, a cottage, or a holiday home – or even a nice hotel room.

Stay for a week or months – and have your loved ones join you if they can.

Fisherman's cabin in Lofoten .
Photo: Thomas Rasmus Skaug / Visitnorway.com
Fisherman's cabin in Lofoten .
Photo: Thomas Rasmus Skaug / Visitnorway.com

Coworking spaces

Several places across the country also offer coworking, where you can rent a workspace together with others. This is a fun way to get to know new people.

"You can be just as productive – and often far more creative – by working in an environment that gives you new impulses, as well as the opportunity to be active in fantastic nature", says Torill Bye Wilhelmsen.

She is the initiator of Beta Coworking Space in Vågå in the Gudbrandsdalen valley, an entrepreneurial community for mountain-loving people. When they opened in 2016, they were one of the first rural coworking alternatives in Norway.

"At Beta, we have had visitors from all over the world. They come to have some peace and quiet while they work", Bye Wilhelmsen explains.

Beta has gained several new members during the corona pandemic.

Portrait of Torill Bye Wilhelmsen, one of the initiators for BETA Coworking Space in Vågå in the Gudbrandsdalen valley, Eastern Norway
Torill Bye Wilhelmsen.
Photo: Bård Gundersen

In a challenging period, being allowed to go on an inspiring workation can be experienced as a massive bonus for employees.

"In the US, this is much more common. Many companies also pay for a permanent coworking place for their employees", says Bye Wilhelmsen.

Another major international trend is "work retreats", which is already being practised on an annual basis by many leading companies worldwide. On a work retreat, a group of colleagues travel to an inspiring place to work together for a period.

Find your dream office

"A workcation allows you to work and travel, without having to use your vacation days. You can change surroundings, get inspiration and still work efficiently", says Maren Eek Bistrup from Northern Alpine Guides.

They offer a bit more exclusive remote offices in collaboration with Lofoten Ski Lodge. Ski touring trips are one of the "out to lunch" offers.

People having a meeting while in their ski boots on a workation to Lofoten, Northern Norway
Workation in Lofoten.
Photo: Northern Alpine Guides

"The lodge has a fantastic view, and you can work from the lounge, an office space in the conference hall, from the fisherman's cabin, or in the restaurant by the pier", Bistrup says.

If you want to work to the sound of the sea and catch a wave during your break, Unstad is the place to check out. Here, you can test coliving, where you both live and work in a coworking space, right next to one of the most famous Arctic surf spots.

"We have Norway's most epic home office. Here, you can surf, go hiking or just enjoy nature when you are not working", says Stian Morel.

Arctic Coworking Lodge, Lofoten .
Photo: @stefanlanser
Arctic Coworking Lodge, Lofoten .
Photo: @stefanlanser

He is one of the Arctic Coworking lodge founders on the island Vestvågøy in Lofoten, a place that attracts everything from students and marketers to and engineers and shipbuilders.

Arctic Coworking Lodge in Lofoten .
Photo: Arctic Coworking Lodge
Arctic Coworking Lodge in Lofoten .
Photo: Arctic Coworking Lodge

You decide the working hours. Some chose to work from nine to five, while others open their laptops in the evening after spending the whole day outdoors.

Open office space just got a new meaning.

Or how about emigrating to a remote island above the arctic circle?

A woman on the Sanna Island, part of the Træna islands on the Helgeland coast of Northern Norway
The Træna Islands.
Photo: Christine Baglo / Visitnorway.com

"We are dependent on people coming here for the speedboat to continue to run, and for us to be able to have a vibrant and attractive society", says Moa Björnsson.

She is the development manager at Træna, an island community in Helgeland with around 450 permanent inhabitants.

Træna offers an Artist in Residence program (AIR) for artists, architects, chefs, researchers and everyone who has exciting ideas.

"Tourism is important to us - and workation is ingenious", she points out.

Image of Moa Björnsson on the Træna islands on the Helgeland coast in Northern Norway
Moa Björnsson.
Photo: Christine Baglo / Visitnorway.com

The island also offers a separate Families in Residence program for families that want to test island living for a while. If you first and foremost want to be at peace to concentrate on your projects, you can check in on one of Træna's accommodation options.

Stokkøya in Trøndelag is another popular workation destination. Here, you can stay in a subterranean unit and enjoy an office with a view in "Bygdeboksen", a meeting point for locals and visitors. Right next door, you'll find a bakery and a gin distillery (!).

You can have dinner at the famous beach bar, which by the way has been voted one of the coolest in the world. With a sauna available, you're also free to take a dip in the sea – all year round!

Office with an ocean view at Stokkøya beach hotel in Trøndelag
Stokkøya beach hotel.
Photo: Stokkøya

Or maybe you want to feel the ocean breeze in a sleepy coastal town in Southern Norway or enjoy the tranquillity of nature in the mighty landscapes of Fjord Norway, in nature paradises like the Hardangerfjord region, Sognefjorden and Northwest? Working from a spa or a ski resort is also a possibility ...

There are also several coworking facilities in Norway's main cities – perfect if you want to combine your work sprints with a refill of urban vibes.

Bakklandet, Trondheim .
Photo: Jarle Hagen
Bakklandet, Trondheim .
Photo: Jarle Hagen

How to plan a workation

Sold on the idea? Well, then it's time to start planning!

Where: Find a place that suits you, preferably based on an interest or dream you have. Fjords? Mountains? Northern lights? Small town or a big city?

How: When you have decided where you want to go, contact the local tourist information office for tips on providers that may be right for you.

What do I need: Think through what you need: Computer, good internet access, office space, access to printer/quiet room/meeting room etc.

Transport: Should the place and the accommodation be accessible by public transport, or do you have your own car/transport?

Travel outside peak season: If you avoid travelling during peak season, it will often be easier to find affordable housing that is fully furnished, such as a holiday home. That way, you’ll only need to bring clothes and equipment for personal use.

Coworking: There are coworking facilities in all the major cities and in many smaller towns, as well as in the countryside. Search for the place you want to go to and "coworking" or "startups".

Co-living: Some places offer co-living, where you can both live and work in a community, often in super scenic surroundings.

Café office: Alternatively, you can check if there are any nice cafes to work from in the area. It’s a nice way to meet new people and feel social if you travel alone.

Artist in Residence: Some places in Norway offer different types of artist-in-residency stays, sometimes also for others than just artists/architects/authors.

Coworking providers

The concept of coworking is still reasonably new in Norway, but you can see an overview of Norwegian providers on CoworkBooking.com and Coworker.com, or by checking out Coworking Norway.

At Scandic Hotels, you can work in the lobby or your hotel room, and host meetings in a private meeting room. They also offer reasonable prices on long-term stays and student rooms.

A woman sitting outdoors with her computer in Solund in Fjord Norway
Workation in Solund.
Photo: Solund / Fordkysten

Get tips on what activities and accommodations you can combine your workation with, and find a smart car rental alternative via Rent-A-Wreck.

Explore some of the options

What would you like to see and do on your workation? Find your dream office!

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