Work with a view, somewhere new
Tired of your office (or kitchen table)?
Pack up your laptop and take a working vacation – a workation!
With splendid views, wild adventures and one of the world's fastest Wi-Fi speeds almost everywhere, Norway is a safe bet for anyone who wants to combine work and leisure. In 2021, the travel magazine Wanderlust rated Norway one of the 7 best countries in which to take a workation.
A booming trend
Workations – working remotely while on vacation – have 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" who combine work and travel.
However, the Covid pandemic has shown that untraditional office spaces can be a good alternative for many others too.
"When I have writer's block, I always go for a walk to get inspiration. I can stand here on the shore and compose thoughts and sentences in my mind," says Katrine Sørgård.
Sørgård is a freelance journalist and photographer who considers herself a true digital nomad. For her, workations are a lifestyle.
"When I'm on a workation, I find peace and get into a special flow," she says.
Benefits of working remotely
In a recent survey by the Norwegian Institute of Transport Economics, 74% of respondents stated that they are "as productive or more productive when working from home as compared to working in the office".
Numerous international studies reveal similar trends. Workers who are comfortable working remotely are happier, have lower sickness absence rates and more energy, and have a greater sense of loyalty to employers when they can work flexibly. Such findings have led many researchers to posit that flexible and remote work will become the norm,even after the pandemic.
This means you can do your job while enjoying your bucket list destinations.
When you have free time, you can do what you love. Go skiing or hiking, or do some yoga.
A workation in Norway is easy. If you travel outside the peak season, it does not have to be that expensive either. It's simply an ideal way to experience some of the most spectacular places in Norway, without the crowds.
If you are looking for a quiet place to complete an important task, you can rent a fisherman's cabin, cottage, or holiday home – or even a comfortable hotel room.
Stay for a week or several months – and invite your loved ones to join you.
Svalbard is home to the world's northernmost university, church, and brewery (yes, they're three separate places) and is surrounded by raw wilderness and unique animal life.
The wild arctic nature will definitely inspire your best work!
Svalbard is one of the few places in the world where citizens from any country are welcome to settle (if they have a job and a place to stay). And the income tax is really low!
Coworking spaces are found in many parts of the country. Sharing a workspace with others is a great way to meet 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.
Wilhelmsen is the founder of Beta Coworking Space in Vågå in the Gudbrandsdalen valley, an entrepreneurial community for people who love the mountains and the outdoors. When it first opened in 2016, Beta was one of the very first rural coworking spaces in Norway.
"People visit Beta from all over the world. They come here to have a tranquil and quiet place in which to work," Bye Wilhelmsen explains.
Another major international trend is work retreats, which are already being held annually by many leading global companies. On a work retreat, colleagues travel to an inspiring place to work and relax together in new surroundings.
Find your dream office
If you want to work accompanied by the sounds of the sea and catch a wave during your break then Unstad in Lofoten is the place for you. Here, you can try out coliving – living and working in a coworking space – right next to one of the world's most famous Arctic surf spots.
"We have Norway's most epic remote office space. Here, you can surf, hike, or just enjoy nature during your time off," says Stian Morel.
Choose your own working hours. Some people work from nine to five, while others prefer to log on in the evening after spending the whole day outdoors.
Open office space just got a lot more open!
Experience the ultimate work-life balance in the Træna archipelago, off the Helgeland coast.
"Træna offers an Artist-in-Residence (AIR) programme that's open to artists, architects, chefs, researchers, and anyone else with exciting ideas," says Moa Björnsson.
She is Head of Development at Træna Municipality, an island community in Helgeland with around 450 full-time residents.
The municipality also offers a separate Families-in-Residence programme for those who want to sample island living for a while. If you are mainly looking for a quiet and calm place to concentrate on your projects, Træna has several excellent accommodation options available.
The island of Stokkøya in Trøndelag is also a 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 (!).
Enjoy a delicious dinner at the famous beach bar, which has been voted one of the coolest in the world. With a sauna available, you can take a dip in the sea – all year round!
Otherwise, work and hobbies can easily be combined at the horseback rider's paradise Mesna, in Eastern Norway. Work in peaceful surroundings and enjoy the outdoors with riding tours on beautiful Icelandic horses, ski trips in the forest and saunas in winter, and swimming and kayaking in the summer.
How to plan a workation
Sold on the idea? Well, then it's time to start planning!
Where: Find a place that suits you and your own personal interests and dreams. Fjords? Mountains? Northern lights? Small town or big city?
How: When you have decided where you want to go, contact its local tourist information office for tips on spaces and services that may be right for you.
What you need: Think through what you need: Computer, good internet access, office space, access to a printer/quiet room/meeting room, etc.?
Transport: Does your destination need to be accessible by public transport, or do you have your own transport?
When to go: If you avoid travelling during peak season, it will often be easier to find affordable housing that is fully furnished, such as a holiday rental. That way, you’ll only need to bring your clothes and work equipment.
Coworking: There are coworking facilities in all the major cities and in many smaller towns, as well as in the countryside. Enter the name of your preferred destination and terms like "coworking" or "startups" in a search engine and browse the results.
Co-living: Some places offer co-living (or coliving), where you can both live and work in a community, often in beautiful natural surroundings.
Café office: Alternatively, you can check if there are any comfortable cafés to work from in the area. It’s a great way to meet new people and socialise if you're travelling alone.
Artist in Residence: Norway offers a variety of artist-in-residence programmes, some of which are also open to applicants who are not artists, architects, or authors.
Although the concept of coworking is relatively new in Norway, more spaces are popping up all the time. You can see an overview of Norwegian spaces at CoworkBooking.com, Coworker.com, and Coworking Norway.
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