Whilst to the outside observer, business travel can seem like a glamorous and desirable part of a job, the reality of it is actually very different.
It’s not necessarily a jet-set lifestyle. Business travel often involves early starts and late nights, creating long working days that are often unavoidable. Add in the obvious struggle of a time difference if you’re travelling abroad and you’ve got a situation that can be very detrimental to your health.
Jet lag can be a more serious condition than people think. Disturbed sleep can lead to further problems such as unexplained mood changes, daytime fatigue and disorientation.
Odd meal times coupled with a poor diet can lead to gastro problems. As can the excess alcohol consumption which often partners business meetings.
Lack of meaningful exercise can also have a toll on the body.
With all this in mind, it is obvious that companies must take better care of their employees who travel for business. There must be a consideration within a company’s travel policy that deals with traveller wellbeing and individuals must take responsibility for following that policy.
A happy and healthy employee will always be in a better position to conduct a successful meeting which is a good thing for companies. Otherwise, the point of the meeting in the first place has to be questioned.
Here are some ideas as to what companies can put into their travel policies to ensure their employees stay happy, healthy and productive.
Make the travelling easy
Long layovers, multiple connections or flight changes and complex journeys can add to a business traveller’s stress before their work has even started.
Booking direct flights to a destination can often be more expensive than a convoluted journey but consider the benefits against the cost.
- The meeting can be completed in less time, freeing up the employee for other business.
- A well-rested employee is more likely to make a success of the meeting.
- Other expenses can add up, such as sustenance and accommodation.
Always consider business class against economy, especially if dealing with shorter timescales. You always want your employee to arrive relaxed and ready to do business.
Also, remember that employees self-driving after a long flight is dangerous and unnecessary.
Research accommodation options carefully
Staying in a hotel room, especially on longer business trips, can be detrimental to one’s mental health. Imagine a hard day’s work ends with you staring, alone, at the same 4 walls every night.
If a hotel is unavoidable try to ensure it has a gym to enable employees to not only exercise but have an excuse to leave their room.
Corporate housing offers a much more comfortable alternative. Companies such as thesqua.re have extended stay apartments available in cities around the world. Serviced apartments that are spacious, comfortable and located within business districts of major cities.
Who says that every meeting we have has to be in a meeting room or boardroom? Why are we leaving one office to go and sit in another? Be creative with your choice of meeting venues.
If you’re meeting in a city then check if the local museum or sports stadium has meeting facilities.
Consider meeting in a restaurant so at least you get to try the local cuisine whilst you’re in town.
The other alternative is outside, it’s not as wacky as it sounds! You’ve gone from office to plane to office to accommodation. You’ve not had a breath of fresh air. Outdoor meetings can leave you feeling energised, refreshed and motivated for the rest of the day.
Mix business with pleasure
If practical, add a rest day on to the end of a business trip, especially if it is over multiple days. This gives them time to explore the city they’ve visited and more importantly gives them the opportunity to rest before their return.
If this isn’t possible then ensure you allow employees to add holiday on to the end of a business trip.
This practice is becoming known as ‘bleisure’.
Don’t travel at all!
It’s 2019, there are plenty of alternatives to travelling around the world to meet up with people to discuss business. Did you know that most business meetings abroad are internal ones? In other words, they are between individuals who work for the same company?
Consider meeting smarter. Think about who you are meeting and where you are all coming from. Could taking advantage of technology be a more viable alternative to meeting in person?
Consider the time, the cost and the environmental impact against the benefits. Face to face meetings are well known to be high value in terms of relationship building but consider each and every meeting on its own merits.