Krzysztof Witczak

Going back from workation in Athens: Unveiling Inspiration

May 21, 2023

My wife told me a lot of captivating stories about Greece and Athens since we met for the first time. The culture is so different from ours, with thousands of years of history visible behind every corner. Opportunity to escape a ”typical grey, cold polish winter” and embrace a vast, blue firmament of a warm sky, filling up your body with precious vitamin D, giving you countless health and mental benefits. Oh, and the fact that you can have huge mountains in a close approximation to the sea - I always thought as a child, that land everywhere looks like in Poland - on one edge of the country you have sea, and on another - hills and huge elevations. My childhood beliefs were shattered! 🤯

All in all, despite I have never been there before, my wife’s stories allured me to embarking on a 6-month journey to Athens. Long story short, we are already back in Poland - so it’s time for a little summary.

This blog post is not a tutorial on how to plan such a trip, because I believe you can find many tips online. Instead, I present you my takeaways from a view of IT professional that could be useful for you too.

I felt an immediate flow of technical inspiration

After arriving we’ve felt all sense of feelings. Seeing so much sun, beautiful views, nature, smiling people - surge of dopamine was in our veins.

Later I started to notice more subtile differences between my original location and a new one. I didn’t expect it but I felt an urge to… build software for Greeks! 🙀 I couldn’t believe that such a huge metropolis like Athens (almost 4 million people in the official records, some say that in reality, it may have 1.5x more habitants) lacked a simple app to purchase a bus, tram or train tickets. Instead, it is necessary to go to one of the bigger metro stations and make a physical plastic card with your picture. It is possible to top up this card on some of the tram stations or metro using dedicated machines or your phone. It is not terrible, but compared to the systems I have seen years ago in Poland, the UK or Hong Kong it felt… quite antique 😉. I realized that through traveling and experiencing other countries, cultures, and big cities I now had experience which could potentially lead to innovations in other areas. I simply knew how it could work and lead to a better UX. This is how, most probably, the vast number of innovators and business people transferred ideas from one location to another, making it overall a better place for people to live and gaining a lot of money through it. Travel makes you smarter as the saying goes, and that also extends to the realm of IT systems and innovation.

I’ve learned later why such a system potentially wouldn’t be a huge innovation… travel makes you smarter in the end… 😉 but I still think that you may gain amazing business ideas thanks to traveling.

I realized I may not need that much accessories

My remote office in Poland is quite polished.

  • I have two large screens on mechanical arms
  • I have a podcast-level microphone on a third mechanical arm
  • Also a 4k web camera
  • Everything is connected through a hub which allows me to connect my M1 Mac with a single cable. If you have M1 you know it’s not that simple 😉
  • I have a huge standing desk made of real oak with position memory…

In Greece on the other hand, in some cases, I was working by sitting on a box and using just my Mac. And you know what? It was fine. Of course, my back would hurt a bit and I sometimes felt less productive, but I was surprised that it was a smaller difference than I expected. Most probably because I quickly adapted - I learned to use a single 13” screen more effectively with new shortcuts, or options for software to allow me to have called and do notes while still seeing other people’s faces (Zoom minimized faces always on top feature), and so on. Oh, and I don’t need a mouse at all, since I know more shortcuts and gestures for a touchpad. Great training! Our original plan was that we will buy accessories like external monitors or keyboards but it was absolutely not necessary.


Additionally, learning to be productive with your laptop only gives you the flexibility to work outside - maybe on the balcony or on the top of a roof - in the beautiful Greek sun. I used this option all the time - and it was fantastic, especially in very early mornings. We were afraid that noise from the busy streets of Athens will cause problems for video calls, but it was not a problem at all - the Mac microphone was good enough to filter it out without any problems.

We wanted to live in a couple of areas to explore the city better - in the end we lived in three different apartments across the Athens. I thought it would be a problem to transfer between them with all of the bags, but it was not a problem at all. When we were moving the last time, it took us maybe 4 or 5 hours to pack everything and clean up the place.

It was not ideal though - I knew the Internet will be worse compared to Poland, but I was still surprised by how bad it was. Speed is one thing, but the major problem was the lack of stability which resulted in frequent disconnections from Zoom calls or VPN. If you are using two-factor authentication, VPN restarting randomly can really piss you off. One thing I can recommend is to carefully check the Internet speed of your future place and ask out on details (speed, disconnects, provider).

Now I’m looking at accessories in my office differently - I recognize that I can accomplish my tasks without them, but it’s simply a pleasure to have them as your support.

I started to value my time more

One of the benefits of workation is that if you will plan your stay effectively, you can enjoy your new location not only during weekends but maybe even after work or by extending your weekend by working 4 days a week for some time. In our case, I started getting up earlier and made a hard stop to finish work earlier too - so we can quickly go to a nearby beach and drink a coffee there watching the sunset. In the last half of a year, I’ve probably witnessed more beautiful sunsets than in the rest of my life combined.

This shift in mindset also brought several advantages. We often have this feeling that it is necessary to finish something today, otherwise, it will bug us for the rest of the evening. However if you accept that most people won’t take a look at what you produced after 5 PM anyways because they will feel it’s the end of their day, then it doesn’t matter if you will stay longer today and finish it now, or if you will wake up earlier and finish it on the morning. In many cases, the only reason why we are forcing ourselves to stay longer is ourselves and our feeling of closure. Instead, I think a healthier approach is to ask yourself how important it really is to close it ASAP. If it’s not - just end your day, rest, enjoy the evening and focus on making your mornings extremely productive. Work fewer hours in total, but make them more meaningful.

Sometimes you may need to quickly come back

I didn’t think about this too much when we were leaving, but different private situations in life sometimes require us to come back from workation. We’ve experienced this as well, but it turned out that connections in the winter season were far from perfect - going from Athens to my place in Poland was a 24-hour trip door to door… disruptions due to strikes in Athens also didn’t make things easier.

A closer example for an IT professional could be a remote team meetup. I also experienced this - when you are going away for a couple of months, take into account that you may be forced to pass on such team activity or it will be much harder to do.

The biggest surprise and a new workation dimension

On one of the evenings my wife decided that she’d like to join an art drawing studio. We picked a studio which was a 20-minute walk from our apartment, but it was a pretty random decision. Turned out to be a great one - we’ve met so many fantastic, wonderful Greek people who opened another dimension of workation. We’ve been on many local holidays and celebrations together, we’ve heard first-hand experiences about living in Athens, they trained us on speaking Greek, and so much more. Some of the friends we’ve met are working in IT which also opened my eyes to what it looks like in Greece, what to expect, what is the attitude and working culture. Others turned out to share an RPG passion as I do, or being fantasy lovers - we’ve exchanged so many valuable insights on famous titles, it was a blast. Now, we are waiting for some of them to visit us in Poland this year in September! 👏

That was my biggest surprise how much value such a random activity gave us. If you plan to do workation, tangle yourself in activities which will expose you to local communities and immerse!

You won’t regret it.


We’ve spent half of a year in Athens, and I’ve realized a couple of things:

  • Exposure to a new culture, problems, changes and differences sparks creativity and brings business ideas - use it.
  • I don’t need that much to get my work done - having fewer accessories trained me to use my 13” Mac more effectively and embrace simplicity and adaptability. The one important thing is to check thoroughly the Internet quality of your future place.
  • Workation and a plethora of things to see in new places taught me that doing over hours may not bring much impact - it’s more important to learn how to use your 8 hours the best you can, it may mean adjusting your routines.
  • Before you go on workation think about if you won’t need to go back prematurely - private or family matters, team meetups or other events may surprise you.
  • Finally, once you are there, do not isolate but instead join a local community event and expose yourself to the people - you may find friends for a lifetime.

We love our workation adventure and we plan to do it again next year. If you want to know where you can PM me - we’ve discovered a special place that we cannot wait to visit.

Either way, if you are on the fence about doing workation too - just do it. You’ll have a lifetime of memories.