Coworking Retreats: The New Work + Life + Play Experience

UNSETTLED
Unsettled offers retreats for teams and digital nomads to provide “a second home” where coliving, coworking, collaborating, and community is at the center of the experience.
  • Unsettled offers retreats in 12 destinations, across five continents.
  • The founders’ goal is to provide “a second home” where coliving, coworking, collaborating, and community is at the center of the experience.
  • These retreats help reduce loneliness among digital nomads, and build community through shared experiences.

The number of remote workers and freelancers keeps growing. A recent Buffer survey found that the biggest struggle of working remotely is loneliness. Luckily, reducing loneliness is one of coworking’s core value propositions.

However, a significant percentage of remote workers have transitioned into digital nomadism. For them it’s even harder to reduce loneliness as they tend to move around from one place to another. This has given rise to a new type of coworking experience: coworking retreats.

Founded by Michael Youngblood and Jonathan Kalan  in 2016, Unsettled offers one week, two week, and one month retreats in 12 destinations, across five continents. These retreats provide an opportunity to fully experience today’s work + life + play dynamics.

In an interview with Allwork.Space, Youngblood stated that “the Unsettled experience is a unique way to combine work, travel and adventure with meaningful personal and professional growth. It’s a chance to live more boldly, reflect on your life trajectory, try new things, and expand your perspective.”

The inspiration behind Unsettled is that “we live in uncertain times (…) in a state of constant change, transition, and evolution.” Their goal is to provide unsettled souls with a second home, one where the concept of “co” – coliving, coworking, collaborating, community – is at the core and center of the experience.

Although Unsettlers aren’t required to show up and participate in all the organized activities, it’s certainly what’s encouraged. “It’s a bit like study abroad or summer camp. You’re not required to show up for everything, but there are always plenty of things to explore, conversations to have, or experiences to dive into individually or with the group.”

The company believes that the best experiences are those in which one is a full, active participant. “We spend enough of our waking hours as passive consumers, and we’ve learned that the more you can give people an active role in shaping their experience, the more everyone will benefit.” Most of the unsettled experiences are co-created.

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On the outside, it sounds like the perfect vacation plan for millennials, but just like coworking, the demographics of participants are quite diverse. “Our diversity – of age, background, nationality, and profession – is one thing that we’re incredibly proud of. We’ve had over 800 alumni from 70 countries –  CEOs, CMOs and CFOs to farmers, designers, architects, captains, scientists, rare book collectors, illustrators, painters, poets, programmers, professional coaches, and more.”

This is what makes the experience so rich. “We’ve had participants from ages 19 to 74, although the median age is late 30’s.

How does it work?

Unsettled doesn’t have any branded coliving spaces. The way they create and run these retreats is through local partnerships based on the needs of each location. “We choose accommodations that reflect the best way to live in each destination. We look for spaces that feel like home, places where you can kick your feet up on the couch or host a dinner party for friends. We provide communal settings with private rooms and private bathrooms.”

The same goes for their coworking offering.

These retreats and experiences were created in part to help reduce loneliness among digital nomads. But if the retreat is between one week and one month long, how do you build a lasting community?

Youngblood says “part of the challenge we’re solving is how to enable community in an age of hyper mobility. As a growing part of the workforce lives and works from anywhere, we need to build networks that enable us to find meaningful connections and a sustained sense of community. This is what we are aiming at.

We build community through shared experiences. Spending two weeks or one month of your life in a new city with a group of complete strangers can be transformational. You’re spending as much time – meals, conversations, the high points, low points, and everything in between – with these people. The relationships formed are incredibly deep, so it’s no surprise that people stay connected on their own.

“We also have a highly active alumni group, and every week there are usually a handful of alumni meetups happening across the world.”

The approach seems to work. “Out of around 800 alumni, we’ve had about 75 people come back for their second, third, fourth and even fifth Unsettled experience.”

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