Category Archives: Good working

Choosing the perfect workation apartment

How to choose a workation apartment

Planning a workation away from your usual base? Choosing the right space for your remote office location is key to a successful stint working away. Once you’ve selected the city or region you’ll be working from, here’s what to look for in your workation apartment.


Reliable, high-speed wifi is no 1 on every digital nomad’s list for an effective digital workation. Connectivity is essential. Beware thick walls if your apartment is in a historic building, and make friends with the maintenance guys.

When the wifi went down during our first workation stint, it was only when we headed out to grab some lunch that we found a workman in the stairwell fiddling with the wires. Good timing – we were on the verge of losing the critical router on which our workation depended.

Added bonus: the building’s owner was on site at the same time, so we were invited to an impromptu full tour of the other (stunning) apartments in our block, an immaculately restored palace full of authentic architectural detail.

Workation tip: Ask the right questions about wifi before you book, and get chatty once you move in.


If you’ve managed to negotiate a remote workation, odds are you rely on a laptop to keep your hustle on track. So choose a workation apartment that fits your personal working style. Unless you’re used to tapping away with a laptop on your knees in bed / on the sofa, scour photos of your accommodation for suitable workspace spots.

When we go on workation, my husband and I look for enough separate desk space within the apartment to accommodate a laptop, papers and privacy for when we are both on calls. You might appreciate a spare bedroom if your Zooms / Teams times clash.

Alternatively, is there a dining table and a breakfast bar? Or a dressing table that could double up as a desk, for at least some of the time? Imagine how you can make the space work for your needs.

working on the terrace
Work that deskspace

Check images of your rental apartment for socket locations, suitable seating and – critically – air conditioning units if you’re working away somewhere in the sun. Heating will be key for a winter workation.

Lighting too is important. Is there natural light? Will lamps or overhead lighting be enough to work by? Consider taking a small LED lamp with you – it will help open up your apartment and potentially make dark corners useable for work.

Workation tip: Take a multi-socket or power tower with a long lead. And pack plenty of socket converters.


Where is your workation apartment located? I recommend a residential rather than a heavily touristed area: you’re more likely to find handy local shops like a bakery, corner shop, bar or cafe. A neighbourhood print shop and library are useful when you need to get stuff done or want a quiet change of scene.

Staying in a residential area will be more like ‘real life’ and you are less likely to suffer from street noise. Research your proposed workation apartment on Google maps. Do windows overlook a cobbled street or a shared communal area? Cobbles make a racket when tourists pass by pulling roll-on luggage. Is your apartment on a busy route for guided walking tours? A stream of passers-by can be seriously disruptive if you want to keep windows open while you work.

Cobbled street
Is your apartment on a tourist route?

Accommodation outside the main tourist drag is likely to come in cheaper than an apartment in the historic centre of whichever city you choose. You’re also contributing to the local economy if you buy from independent businesses in your temporary adopted neighbourhood.

Workation tip: Research how many other rental apartments in the block where you will be on workation. If others are on holiday while you are working, expect higher noise levels that could disturb your work vibe.

Long-term rentals

On the basis that you are renting your workation apartment for at least a month, you may find your landlord able to offer a discount on fees. Check whether there is a cap on power bills as the air con / heating can take a hammering if you’re in your apartment working for long hours. Consider skipping the weekly linen change / cleaning service and do it yourself instead. This will save your landlord costs, which they may be willing to reflect in the fees they charge you.

Check your apartment carefully for equipment and facilities. Many city centre rentals offer limited cooking equipment as they cater mainly for short-term stays – will you need an oven, hob or dishwasher?

Workation tip: Ask for a spare set of sheets / towels if you’re planning on going DIY – and only do so if there’s a washing machine AND drying space in your workation apartment.


Common complaints from local residents about increasing numbers of properties being rented out, concern the thoughtlessness of short-term let neighbours.

Putting out the rubbish on the wrong days, leaving hire bikes in communal hallways, keeping unsociable hours – even drying laundry over public balconies, feature in lists of annoying renter behaviours cited by residents in Spain. Be considerate and make an effort to live like a local when on workation.

coffee in a neighbourhood cafe
Support your neighbourhood

Why not also research local clubs and pursue a new interest while you’re working away? Sports and crafts are a good place to start. Alternatively, volunteer with an eco group and join litter picks, gardening or neighbourhood clear-ups. Check social media for inspiration and get in touch.

It’s the perfect way to give back to the community you have joined temporarily, get to know some locals and maybe even forge lasting friendships.

Workation tip: Speaking the local language will help big time. Do some Duolingo before you go and consider classes while you are away.

Looking for a workation apartment in Spain? Try Genteel Home. We have used them several times – properties and service are excellent.

Stand up for your workplace health

Whose job is it to improve the health credentials of our workplaces? The state, in a bid to ease the strain on our overstretched NHS? Employers, who reap the commercial benefits of healthier, more productive staff? Or should we the workers, for reasons of self-interest, stand up for our own workplace health?

Perhaps because no one can actually decide how to tackle the health time-bomb of sedentary working habits – or has the energy to do so? – we are sleep-sitting our way into a crisis of (literally) crippling proportions.

Inactivity: the cause of 20% of premature deaths

The extent of the problem was laid bare at this week’s Active Working Summit 2017. Expert speaker after speaker ran through the evidence:

  • nearly a fifth of premature deaths in the UK are due to physical inactivity;
  • more than 50% of staff working for the NHS (the nation’s biggest employer) are overweight;
  • the cost to the UK of poor workplace health is equal to the GDP of Portugal;
  • fewer than half of us are disability-free by age 50;
  • by spending seven hours plus a day seated we are suffering from muscle and joint issues that leave us frail and incapacitated.

The evidential case against workplace sedentary behaviour is clear. What researchers are focusing on too is how reducing those sedentary habits positively improves wellness and productivity. Early signs are good, and enlightened employers (and office design) encourage workers to stand up from their desks and get active around the office.

Move often, use mobile tech

The way to create active working is move often and carry mobile tech, ergonomics guru Prof Alan Hedge of Cornell University told the Active Working Summit. Younger workers get it, when their workplaces make it possible (take a walk through tech-co intensive Old Street and you’ll see this in action).

As Mayo Clinic Professor James Levine put it: “Active working is the coolest way to work. Barack Obama, the boss of Nike does it, Google, Facebook. These are cool places to work and they don’t want staff to be in their seats in one place all day long.”

‘We are being failed by the HSE’

So why aren’t corporate health and safety, occupational health departments in the vanguard of the active working movement? Gavin Bradley, the evangelical founding director of Active Working CIC, believes we are being failed by the HSE with its lack of recommendations for the use of adjustable desks. Workplace OH specialists generally only get involved once an employee has complained of a condition such as back or shoulder ache rather than taking the preventative approach.

We’ve got it the wrong way round, agreed Dr Nicola Eccles of Halifax-headquartered CP Active: “We shouldn’t be asking why aren’t you at your desk, but why are you always at your desk?”

So is it time for statutory guidance on active working? In Denmark, employers are legally obliged to provide sit-stand desks. It’s the law. The desks are there. Few workers use them. Gitte Toft, Danish inventor of the Steppie balance board blamed it on the lack of training, explanation and encouragement. Push rather than nudge just doesn’t seem to work.

Embed health in your business

Public Health England advisor Dame Carol Black agreed that legislation was not the answer, preferring options such as a voluntary register for employers. “Legislative policy follows the population,” she said. “Health and wellbeing at work cannot be an add-on: it needs to be embedded in a company.”

My take on this message – and one that I pass on to staff at companies I work with on healthy workplace practices: you work here, you deserve better, the ball is in your court. If you want a healthier working environment (and who wouldn’t?), you’ve got to demand it. Ask for the sit-stand desk riser, take regular breaks, become your department’s healthy workplace champion, put up posters, challenge your manager, stop eating lunch at your desk.

As Peter Brogan of the BIFM suggested at the Active Working Summit, the question that needs to get answered is: “Does your board even have a workplace strategy?”

Kickstart your healthy workplace campaign by signing up your team/department/company for On Your Feet Britain Day April 28, 2017: thousands are already signed up for a day of activity in the workplace in a bid to encourage the nation to #sitless #movemore, organised by Active Working CIC.

Capital award for healthy workplace services

I was delighted to be presented with a special award by the Mayor of London’s office this week for being one of the capital’s most active and effective healthy workplace practitioners.

Nicola wins healthy workplace servcies award
Nicola receives healthy workplace award

In recent months, I have assisted six businesses and organisations in applying for and winning accreditation under the London Healthy Workplace Charter: a 100% success rate, and one which means the service I run is among the best in the city. My work continues, with more applications coming through from companies based in the London Borough of Merton (Wimbledon), where I am largely based, and now also further afield.

I am available to aid businesses across South West London and beyond in their attempts to both increase their healthy workplace credentials and apply for the official Mayor of London award if they wish.

Healthy Workplace accreditation

How does it work? An employer wanting to win Charter accreditation needs to put together a folder of evidence documenting its efforts and achievements in encouraging and enabling its staff to follow healthy, sustainable working practices. It also needs to assess its current credentials in the health and wellbeing fields, and identify areas where it can (and will) do better.

It is a process that means a business can genuinely boast of being a healthy workplace employer and enjoy the long term benefits of a more motivated, productive workforce as well as the shorter term (but ongoing) PR and marketing benefits of winning official accreditation under an independent, rigorous, bona fide scheme backed by Public Health England.

Let me help your business

My assistance makes the application process simpler, and is a way to introduce fresh ideas and contacts to help a business better support its staff needs and goals. Research shows that healthier employees are also more productive and motivated, work better together as a team and suffer less absenteeism as well as being better advocates for the business where they work.

Sounds interesting? Visit my workplace health page and get in touch to find out more: