“My office is closed. I can technically work from wherever I want. I keep seeing people posting selfies with their laptops from their workation in Manali with the hashtag #WorkingFromHills. Should I do that too?”
In the interest of full transparency, the answer might be no.
Then again, it might be a resounding yes.
The point is that for some people, working remote from the Himalayas is the best kind of life-changing, but it’s not for everyone, and that’s okay.
After having hosted countless digital nomads for a long term stay in Manali at our Himalayan co-living space and 24 hour coworking space, hearing their concerns, feedback, compliments, questions, and everything in between, we’ve come up with an honest breakdown of what does & does not fit the #WorkFromMountains lifestyle.
So if you’re considering making the mountain digital nomad leap, let these three questions help guide you to understand a little bit more of what to expect and if WFH Manali, or a workation anywhere in the mountains is right for you.
1. How Adaptable am I Willing to Be?
This one is major. Let’s remind ourselves that we are traveling to the Himalayas, a mountain range revered and respected for holding some of the world’s most massive peaks, fiercest climates, dense forests, freezing desserts, and remote terrain. We could go on, but you get the idea.
While you will find workable internet (we, for example, have managed to set up a very reliable, 100mbps fiber wifi connection with a leased line from Airtel for backup as part of our coworking space facilities), it’s just not – read that again – going to be the same as the wifi in your apartment in Pune, or New York, or wherever it is you’ve gotten used to 400mbps speeds.
Depending on where you go, the weather can drastically change the reliability of mobile networks (although at our place Airtel and Jio 4G usually work very well), and not every place that advertises itself as a workstation in Manali or any mountainous location for long-term stays actually has a wifi system of its own for you to fall back on.
Same thing with power supply. With almost complete certainty we can promise you, it will cut – sometimes for minutes, sometimes for days (especially in winter), but it will cut. It’s at this point again that differences in personality begin to emerge. Some people are perfectly happy piecing together a puzzle by candlelight with a cup of chai, while others have managed to ask 15 times when the power will be back by the time that puzzle is finished.
As with the internet, how much the power cuts affect you depends on the place you choose to stay (we have both inverter and generator backup that can last weeks if necessary). Many other places only have inverter (battery) backup, and when that runs out, that’s it until the electricity comes back. Sometimes the main power doesn’t cut, but the voltage is too low, and we have to wait an extra 45 minutes to use the espresso machine.
Moral of the story is, if a 3-second disturbance in the audio of your conference call is going to give you a panic attack, you may want to rethink. On the other hand, if you’re ready and willing to sacrifice a slice of urban convenience for an office view and lunchbreak hikes unlike any other, especially if you choose a place to stay with its own dependable wifi & power backups like ours, you’ll be good to go.
2. Do I Have any Comfort Limitations in Certain Weather?
Equally as important to consider is what season you’ll be traveling in. If you choose to work from home in Manali, this valley has it all when it comes to drastic weather changes, from frigid winters to blazing hot summer days, and that makes a big difference for many.
If you’re planning a remote work trip to the hills in the wintertime, take a few minutes to understand your comfort thresholds when it comes to temperature. Some people can just deal with the cold better than others, plain and simple.
In December and January, the temperature can easily drop to minus 10 degrees celsius outside. It may snow 60cm overnight. Of course we have several large tandoors (pahadi style wood-burning stoves) that we keep burning in all the common spaces as well as big fluffy blankets for every bed, but you’ll still probably be wearing around three layers of clothing even inside the house. Some people cozy up in our fireside workstations and happily respond to emails while watching the snow. Others are asking us when the snow is going to melt. Bottom line, it’s important to know which of these is you.
A note on heating – when you’re choosing a place to stay during winter months, don’t assume all places will give heating for free. While we do, many do not, or will charge you extra. Be sure to ask these questions when gathering your information pre-departure.
3. What Kind of Lifestyle am I Looking For?
Something many don’t think about is the level of service they prefer when traveling, or if the place they are planning to visit is what they actually want. This may sound odd and obvious at first, but we’ve had our fair share of guests who walked through our door expecting a hotel, and were a little surprised by the casual, independently-focused community that we strive to build at our place.
I’ve told people more than once that “I’m not their mom.” And what I mean by that is that if you bring a dish from our kitchen to eat your takeout momos with – no one except you should be bringing it back to the sink for washing. It also means we don’t do room service with cafe orders, or call you ma’am and sir.
Not the sexiest thing to hear about your workation to the mountains, but it’s what creates an atmosphere here of self-reliance, mutual respect for our home and the team we have working hard to make your stay comfortable, and honestly – more fun, because then unrealistic expectations make way for genuine human interaction among Playgrounders.
If this doesn’t sound like “you,” no worries – there are plenty of other places with more formalized boundaries between guest and staff, customer service and customer independence. Knowing the difference beforehand, understanding your own expectations and needs, and deciding accordingly is going to be the key to making sure your adventure is exactly what you’re looking for.
So there you have it. Of course this list is by no means exhaustive, but by addressing some of your basic expectations, needs, and comfort thresholds when it comes to your working and living environment, these three questions will be an invaluable first step as you plan your journey north.
Want to know more about co-living and co-working at Playground? Take a look at our amenities and long term stay plans here, or give us a call at +91 98057 84277. See you outside!