Image: iStock/olezzo

Guided by the restrictions the coronavirus pandemic has imposed, those who’ve been working from home for most of the year have definitely identified the many benefits (comfort, pets, no commute), but some less-than-great issues have developed, too. It can be repressive and suppressive to be surrounded by the same things and people 24/7, and can affect creativity and innovation, keys to a company’s success.

Now, whether spurred from self-motivation or given as an option by business leaders, remote workers are looking toward safe options, which include taking a break for a couple of days or a couple of weeks, and working from a hotel. Choose a hotel near your home so you’re available for emergencies, or choose one a day’s drive away and combine a kind of road trip/vacation.

Shifting locations, changing up surroundings is seen by some to be critical to mental health. “Many people feel cabin fever coming on after months of being sequestered to home offices, kitchens and bedrooms, often with kids or pets around,” said Dr. Alison Mehta, D.O., California’s Community Psychiatry. “The stress of not leaving your home environment, and having a clear way to separate work from home is very hard on many people. The days start to bleed together, and the isolation builds up. Some of my patients who have ADHD are struggling a lot more working from home, as distractions abound.”

SEE: Virtual hiring tips for job seekers and recruiters (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The local universe is your oyster, but before you just book the first thing that comes up on TripAdvisor, you have critical things to consider; you want: Great Wi-Fi, access to business services, a setup where you can work ergonomically (sitting in a bed at home or hotel is not good for your back or neck) and, if you want, see if they accept pets.

To be sure you get a true break, ensure you’ll have things to do in your time off—see what kind of television programming you have, ask about room service, ask if they’ll allow a food delivery service. Don’t forget to find out how much daily parking costs (there have been occasions where daily parking in a San Francisco hotel lot ($90) costs more than the actual room).

“Viva Las Office”: Vegas as a getaway and work space

The hospitality industry appears to be catching on and what better place to start than sin city itself, Las Vegas.

Vegas is a feasible drive from any number of locations, including California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and perhaps Idaho and Oregon. Given the current situation with e-learning and remote work, a longer drive to Vegas may be deemed worthy. In addition to the ease of shift from home office, families will find something for every generation to enjoy (just don’t forget to wear and mask and practice safe social distancing).

MGM Resorts offers “Viva Las Office” with three work-from-hotel packages at Vdara and Aria, with rooms that are “office-ready” with “fast and secure wi-fi, a desk, a chair, and plenty of video meeting-worthy backdrops.” The packages can be booked for up to 28 nights.

“Guests have been especially receptive to the new digital innovations we’ve implemented that are not only convenient, but also help limit interactions in this time of social distancing,” said Atif Rafiq, president of commercial and growth for MGM Resorts International.

“We now have mobile check-in at all of our resorts, allowing guests to go straight to their rooms using their phones as a key. Additionally, we’ve introduced digital queue technology at our restaurants and pools where guests receive a text when their table is ready instead of waiting outside the venue.” MGM resorts has partnered with the semi-private JSX airline.

MGM Resorts Aria (left) and Vdara (right), Las Vegas
Image: MGM Resorts

Vdara was added to the package, Rafiq said because MGM officials learned “at the office” guests prefer to eat in their rooms, and each suite there has a kitchen.

The Associate includes a discounted rate, a deluxe king at Aria and a studio room at Vdara; check in as early as 8 am and as late as 6 pm without additional fees (the most popular feature Rafiq said); an executive assistant to help you book everything; $50 food and beverage credit per night, $75 off Hop-On fare with JSX; free parking and a “Safety Amenity Travel Kit” with mask, sanitizer, and stylus pen.

The Manager features what’s included in the Associate, with the following upgrades; upgraded rooms, $100 off Hop-On fare with JSX, two private pool day passes, and poolside neck-and shoulder massage for one.

The Executive upgrades to an even better room, $75 food and beverage credit per night, $125 off Hop-On fare with JSX, a full-day cabana rental, and a poolside massage for one.

“This is a great idea,” said Dr. Julian Lagoy, MD, who is also a psychiatrist with Community Psychiatry. “Being at home too much can be detrimental to both your mental and physical health and being able to get out of your house to go to a hotel is beneficial. Having colleagues in proximity with each other is beneficial as well. When we are isolated and alone we are more likely to have depression and decreased productivity and when we are working in a group and surrounded by supportive coworkers, productivity and overall well-being will improve.”

A corner room at the Aria Hotel, Las Vegas
Image: MGM Resorts

What’s the Wi-Fi password?

Clearly the hotel-as-office will need to have excellent Wi-Fi to accommodate virtual meetings, the company software, keep communication flowing between team members and more. You might consider trying a free crowd-sourced WiFi Map that lets you find nearby Wi-Fi connections across 200 countries, analyze nearby internet connections for speed, safety, connection latency, etc, and the option for two paid features, a VPN and an eSIM.

If you can’t get to Vegas or want to get away, but don’t need something quite so luxurious, WiFi Map did a survey of the top 10 chain and local “Wi-Fi friendly” hotels.

WiFi Map’s top 10 Wi-Fi-friendly hotels:

  1. Quality Inn
  2. Rodeway Inn
  3. Home Away From Home
  4. Leamington Hotel Miami
  5. Days Inn
  6. American Motel
  7. La Jolla Village Lodge La Jolla, CA
  8. ZenYard B&B Phoenix
  9. Southwyck Farm Bed and Breakfast Lawsonville, NC
  10. Grand Staircase Inn Bryce Canyon, UT

Cybersecurity at hotels

The primary connection to the office will be the use of the hotel Wi-Fi and experts caution that before any staff works on a public Wi-Fi, as they would at a hotel, they need to be taught by the IT department to be sure their security hygiene is excellent.

“The security of the hotel’s Wi-Fi network itself is a concern as people using the network need to be aware of who else is on the network, how others could potentially gain access to their machine and how easily a cyber criminal can use the network for malicious activity,” said Nigel Thorpe, technical director at SecureAge, who also said guests and Wi-Fi users may inadvertently connect to a Wi-Fi clone created by a cyber criminal or could capture business/document traffic in transit.

“IT teams should also be incorporating security technologies like encryption into their workers’ machines as a way to mitigate any incoming threats that could damage or compromise data on a device,” Thorpe said. “Having this kind of technology alongside the use of proper security best practices by the device user will limit the success of cyber criminals.”

Poolside at the Aria Hotel, Las Vegas
Image: MGM Resorts

Head space, office space

“Working from a hotel, or finding another COVID safe space to work away from home is a great idea for improving mental health,” Mehta said. “Even brief distanced contact with colleagues can also be very good for morale and collaboration. Overall, finding an alternative work space can have many mood and productivity benefits right now.”

Image: iStock
Las Vegas’ Vdara hotel suite kitchen
Image: MGM Resorts