According to a recent study, 88% of small business owners enjoy business travel. However, since this study, the world has changed significantly with new guidelines in place for travel due to Covid-19.
The thought of returning to work for those who travel frequently for business can be daunting. However Forbes highlights how business travel won’t be killed by Covid-19, but will return with changes in place that will mostly focus on shorter travel.
Before Covid-19, business travel was firmly on the agenda as a workplace mental health issue. In fact, it can have serious implications for people’s health and mental wellbeing.
A study conducted by the International SOS Foundation has revealed that business trips contribute to behavioural changes in people in the workplace. These include depression, stress and anxiety.
With the advancement in technology making accessibility to work whilst travelling easier, many workers treat their business trips as an office on the go. This has reduced the necessary downtime needed for employees to switch off and look after themselves.
However, there is also considerable stress involved in the process of travelling and being on the road a lot of the time. Losing luggage, delayed flights and being away from loved ones are a few of the factors that contribute to bad experiences during business travel.
International Business Travel and Mental Health
In a previous study based on the correlation between business travel and mental wellbeing, 200 business travellers were interviewed and 45% said they felt more stressed on business trips, while 31% felt emotionally exhausted. Over a quarter of respondents said they experienced more prevalent mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Along with the stress of fulfilling your role whilst on the road, the stress that comes with travel and the lack of downtime, there are also physical health implications to business travel.
With the likelihood of shorter travelling distances as Covid-19 restrictions ease, the frequency of travel could increase. With more travelling, it becomes harder to follow a balanced diet or get much exercise and good quality sleep.
However, business travel is often deemed as essential for meetings, training, entertaining clients and winning new business. The problem is that while international business travel opens up opportunities, it also comes at a cost to wellbeing.
Safeguarding Health and Business Continuity
In recent years, the importance of a work-life balance has been emphasised, highlighting the importance of disconnecting from work. This springs the question what measures can organisations and companies take to try and safeguard employees who are travelling on their behalf?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is clear about the measures for tackling stress, and about the impact stress can have, with over 11 million days a year lost through stress in the workplace.
But how does stress risk management translate to business travel?
There are various stress factors associated with business travel.
Some of these are common to other work situations, including sudden, unexpected workloads, unclear reporting lines and responsibilities, and rapidly changing circumstances.
However, they may also suffer from specific, travel-related stress factors, including: a lack of peer support, or other support network; isolation from family and friends; and jet lag.
These factors also include lack of sleep, lack of exercise and poor diet, as mentioned above.
Symptoms of poor mental health can appear as impaired performance, poor concentration and erratic emotional behaviour.
Better Support for Business Travellers
During this uncertain time, business travellers need more support to ensure mental wellbeing is considered during the return of business travel. It is important that more organisations consider implementing procedures aimed at reducing the mental health risks of business travellers.
This year, the mental wellbeing of remote workers has become much more widely recognised as people adjusted to social distancing and working from home. Along with this and the increase of mental wellbeing in the workplace, the impact of business-related travel needs careful consideration.
There are internal measures businesses and organisations can take to support employees, such as wellness programmes and resilience training, counselling and regular employee surveys.
However, they should also consider the conditions and quality of business travel, and what practical support there is to improve the business travel experience to reduce an impact on mental wellbeing.
One such area of dedicated support is executive car services, providing expert business and chauffeur class transfers.
Here, the focus is on ensuring passengers get all the support they need to reduce any stress and remove the uncertainties and inconvenience associated with business travel, with all the precautions in place to make travel safe.