Just Another Day at the <del>Beach</del> Office

Just Another Day at the Beach Office

In the era of the wherever workforce, people are working at the gym, at upscale restaurants, and at an increasingly rich variety of flexible coworking spaces. But now that summer is in full swing, surely it’s time for these wired warriors to unplug, disconnect, and head for the beach to relax.

Just kidding; they’re working there, too. The Wall Street Journal’s Sue Shellenbarger heads to the beach clubs of Long Island to find that patrons at these establishments are increasingly demanding the ability to get online and do some work from their cabanas:

Sunny Atlantic has upgraded its free Wi-Fi three times in the past two years, partly in response to members who want to work. Club members pay a seasonal fee for cabanas—simple structures that typically include showers, refrigerators and a small patio. Cabana fees, which include club membership, range from $2,980 to more than $10,000 for the season for a 13-by-18-foot unit on the beach with an ocean view, says Howard Taub, managing partner of Sunny Atlantic. At least 20 of Sunny Atlantic’s 1,200 members work regularly from the club, he says.

Neighboring Silver Point Beach Club installed Wi-Fi earlier this summer. “We were late coming to the game,” says William Baumert, the club’s general manager. That said, “the cabanas are right on top of each other. It’s not conducive” to working.

Some beachside accountants and consultants have even set up their own phones and routers in their cabanas. But some beach clubs, Shellenbarger notes, have refused to participate in the trend, declining to introduce Wi-Fi and even restricting mobile phone use. “We’re a beach club. We don’t have an IT department,” explained the general manager of Breezy Point’s Silver Gull Beach Club, which has decided it cannot extend free Wi-Fi to their cabanas.

But while a telework-enabled beach cabana may be a nicer environment to work in than an office, this trend illustrates the blurring line between work and non-work time, which a growing body of research connects to employee disengagement, stress, burnout, and serious mental health issues. Drawing a clear distinction between work and vacation (in terms of time, place, use of technology, etc.) is important to avoid the “always-on” lifestyle, improve work-life balance, and combat stress and fatigue.

Perhaps this is the only way for some workaholics to enjoy they summer, but when the beach becomes just another office, can you still enjoy it the same way?