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Workplace Flexibility, or Tied to the Millstone?

Amenity Wi-Fi and the Non-traditional Office

By Dennis Jones


We all need Wi-Fi, sometimes in the least expected of locations and for the most prosaic of reasons. Take Rhonda Levy for example, one of the subjects (victims?) of a recent story in The Wall Street Journal about the need to connect to Wi-Fi for work while on vacation.

Levy works as a university art professor in the Far Rockaways. She doesn’t have far to go when she wants to hit the beach, as the Long Island coast beckons. But so too does work.

Levy isn’t the only person who finds herself in the predicament of being unable to disconnect from work. Over 60 percent of Americans plan to work during their vacations, as “workplace flexibility” policies have made remote work possible.

But the dawn of the working vacationer has created a challenge for the tourist venues to which they flock. How do you accommodate the connectivity needs of patrons who want to stay connected, even in unplugged locations?

The Sunny Atlantic Beach Club, Levy’s longtime vacation destination, is facing this challenge head on. And so are scads of other coastal vacation destinations. Those clubs are expanding their Wi-Fi infrastructure to keep up with the demand generated by working vacationers. Sunny Atlantic, for example, has already upgraded its free Wi-Fi three times in the last two years.

Some clubs, however, aren’t able to keep up with this new demand for connectivity. And some club managers are even bristling at the need to keep their patrons connected, when vacationers “should be” unplugging and recharging.

Have we reached a new inflection point in the work-life balance debate, as firms give their employees greater workplace flexibility? And what is the right way to stay connected, or for vacation venues to keep us connected? Mobile employees are more productive than ever, thanks to almost universal access to tools, but when is too much simply too much?