Constant business travel and frequent moves between offices can be exhausting even for the most seasoned commuter. Yet when the nature of your job takes you from city to city, and across continents, the shine of traveling can wear off.
While the benefits of work travel often mean many enjoyable business trips, it’s important for companies and colleagues to support each other and stay connected. By staying in contact with colleagues who visit different overseas locations or always work remotely, the risks of burnout from too much travel can be mitigated.
This article explores the importance for companies and colleagues to understand the challenges of constant travel for work and the value of checking in more with employees on the move.
Be aware of the challenges of constant business travel
There is no doubting the value that work trips and of being offered the flexibility to work in different locations has for people and companies. From a personal point of view however, business travel and moving between offices can be extremely tiring and stressful if left unchecked. Despite the benefits, research shows that too much business travel can be bad for people’s mental health with stressors including: long hours, chaotic schedules, and the shift in time zones. In fact, for frequent flyers, delays and cancellations were cited by more than 60% of global business travelers as being the most stressful part of their work trip.
On top of the stress of being away from home, jet lag and fatigue can be detrimental with 39.5% of adult travellers experiencing symptoms, and business travellers suffering the most. Other factors like living out of a suitcase, constantly meeting new people and having to adapt to new places don’t help. The isolation from loved ones and being away from home for prolonged periods can add more strain on mental health. This is especially valid if business travelers are dealing with personal issues back home, such as a bereavement or navigating a divorce. In these circumstances, it’s vital for managers to be aware of the signs of burnout in their remote teams or traveling employees. It’s equally paramount to stay tuned into a colleague’s personal situation to help ensure problems don’t go unnoticed or unsupported.
Check in more with colleagues on the move
It is valuable for businesses to plan overseas meetings to foster connections (and work-related opportunities) across different networks of offices within a country and in locations abroad. Making more effort to check in regularly with these colleagues can be key to identifying any problems before they arise or worsen. For both leaders and colleagues, it is important to look for signs that employees who travel more may be struggling. It can, of course, be harder to offer support when people are not physically in the office or as visible. As such, it is important to build a strong corporate culture alongside a healthy culture of business travel.
With greater remote patterns of working and people traveling more within a business setting, the workplaces are more dispersed than ever. There are practical ways to foster closer connections, such as: holding video calls, sending quick messages, and hosting virtual meetings to touch base on the wellbeing of workers more generally. Organizing virtual coffee meetings or chats is a great way for colleagues who don’t move around as much to catch up with remote traveling team members. When visiting office locations, fellow colleagues can go the extra mile by taking employers out to lunch or introducing them to the unfamiliar faces in the office.
Managers can also learn to be more understanding if an employee who travels frequently needs to reschedule work tasks or adjust their deadlines due to the demands of travel and their wellbeing needs. In most cases, offering colleagues greater degrees of flexibility shows support. Flexible working is always welcome and is also valued as a perk for people working in non-office roles where they travel to and from work sites.
Create policies to support employees
Companies can take official and formal steps to create policies and resources that make business travel easier and healthier for their employees. This shows the organization cares about their wellbeing. Some key initiatives include:
- Establish wellness support – as travel takes a toll physically and mentally, offer resources like virtual ergonomic assessments, counselling, fitness reimbursements.
- Encourage face-to-face meetings – when employees are visiting the office, make time for team lunches, dinners or social events.
- Create online portals and message boards – offer online tools for employees at various locations to connect and communicate. Intranet portals for company news, team message boards, virtual watercooler chat forums.
- Fit temporary desk spaces – provide desks or workspaces for traveling employees when they visit other offices. This gives them a sense of home base when on the road.
- Give clear guidelines – for expenses, logistics and work expectations during business trips. Be flexible about changes in plans. Offer amenities like airport lounge access.
- Recognize employees – highlight and praise business travellers and remote employees for their efforts at company meetings or events.
Implementing these steps and formalizing support for business travellers and remote staff can make a positive difference to employee satisfaction because they will feel more valued and connected to the organization.
Make time to connect
Making an effort to regularly connect with colleagues who travel frequently or work remotely has significant benefits for employees and companies alike. The main advantages will be to help ensure employee’s wellbeing and engagement is positive. As a manager, just checking in can boost morale, alleviate isolation and improve mental health.
In addition to personal benefits, the business will also see gains, such as in strengthened team bonds for better collaboration. Other benefits will be better performance and productivity and, as previously mentioned, a healthier workplace culture.
In order to achieve the rewards that come from having a diverse workforce with frequent business travellers, it’s important, therefore, to facilitate connections with your travellers and remote staff to ensure they avoid burnout, stress and the extreme tiredness that can result in traveling too much. This means checking in regularly, staying in touch with colleagues and arranging in-person and virtual meetups as much as possible.
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