In the past year and a half, the nature of business has significantly changed. After transitioning to an all-digital job interface, the possibility of face-to-face, in-office interaction is once again a reality. In addition to added safety precautions and hybrid work schedules, the return to work also means the return of business travel.
Pre-pandemic, a high percentage of business travel was spent in airports, hotels, and rented cars. While most of these critical modes of transportation are the same, how they are used – and how they impact employee well-being – is completely different. Understanding the importance of wellness and holistic living, that standard of corporate mobility has changed – drastically.
The pandemic forced many of us to switch to remote work, but for some, a return to the office is
imminent. According to the findings of a Gensler survey, employees are most eager to return to the office for the networking and community aspects, which are difficult to replicate organically while working from home. The COVID-19 Delta variant surely has and will delay office openings for the remainder of 2021, even still, some major employers plan to have employees return after Labor Day.
In many cases, remote work served as a sufficient substitute for in-person activities, especially in terms of saving time and costs. However, many companies are worried that a sense of community has been permanently compromised. In-person client visits, conferences, and internal summits involved more than absorbing information and executing against an agenda; it was also about building and further cultivating solid business relationships. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, 95% of people agree that face-to-face meetings help build and maintain these relationships.
Indisputably, organizations are stronger if they have deeper client relationships only truly achieved through face-to-face interaction. In fact, the Global Business Traveler Report revealed that 80% of business travelers are worried that the inability to travel to meet face-to-face will negatively impact their professional life. Furthermore, investing in in-person client interaction speaks to the organization’s quality and commitment to an overall positive customer experience.
Improving Employee Well-Being in a Post Pandemic World
According to Gallup’s 2021 report, 57% of North American employees report feeling stress on a daily basis since the start of the pandemic, up by 8% from the previous year. Therefore, by looking into what you can do to improve employee well-being during business travel in 2021, you could greatly increase their happiness and reduce the risk of burnout. As an example, you can provide them with access to a healthy living regimen, including hiking groups that promote physical and social wellness.
An eventual return to the office also means some employees will be back in the air for business travel. That being said, organizations will have to adapt to their employees traveling in a post-pandemic world. The most significant change is how the pandemic highlighted the importance of employee well-being.
Post-Covid Business Travel: Focus on Employee Well-Being
How can organizations keep employee well-being as a priority now that business travel is resuming? Fortunately, 78% of the world’s employers are committed to creating a workplace culture of health to boost employee engagement. There are several avenues to meet this initiative for keeping your employees safe and happy during their travels by facilitating the opportunity to live in a furnished residence that supports both their health and well-being, particularly for extended assignments or relocations. This will help ease the transition to new surroundings and help enhance overall well-being, which will have a positive impact on workplace performance.
For some, traveling for business is a chance to visit new places and learn about cultures they may not otherwise encounter. Travel, after all, can help businesses develop a better understanding of their customers and affiliates all over the world. However, there’s also the risk of business trips and employee relocations going poorly, which could lead to the loss of strong talent. That is why it is critical to keep employees secure, satisfied, and health-focused.
Extended travel poses a myriad of challenges for employees who are often under significant work-related stress, and coupled with being away from family, this combination can be detrimental to both the employer and the traveler. Ensuring the well-being of your employees should remain a priority during business travel. Businesses should look into offering exercise programs while their employees are traveling to keep their minds sharp and reduce stress. Giving employees back their free time could help them have a better experience, and thus improve employee satisfaction.
How to Support the Mobile Workforce
For companies that routinely send employees on long-term assignments, there are a few considerations to keep in mind for temporary relocation. The first is ensuring they have access to appropriate communication. For example, some organizations provide a dedicated phone number for employees on the road to call for support, or better yet, they’ll use a business travel software to track flights, expenses, communication, etc.
Adequate travel expenses are crucial for employees since they can be quite costly and the location might be more expensive than where they currently live. That means businesses should take into account the housing prices near their intended destinations and overall cost of living adjustments.
Elevating Business Travel During COVID-19
With the global marketplace becoming more competitive, businesses need to travel overseas. In this case, they may need to relocate their employees for business travel. Relocating employees is a sensitive matter since it may mean uprooting them from their family and friends in the short or long term. Still, there are ways to ensure that the process runs smoothly.
Major factors to consider when moving an employee include living costs and benefits. If an employee moves to another city, state, or country for work, their employer can face several challenges. Before you decide to relocate an employee for business, you need to consider the benefits and drawbacks of the move.
For one, hiring a global mobility relocation outfit is essential. A specialist will know the ins and outs of relocating people on and offshore—from preparing personal effects to finding upscale accommodations and even navigating complex tax matters in another state or country. Second, businesses can provide their employees with the support they need during and after the process. A top employer with sterling employee retention typically provides great benefits, a stable workplace, and opportunities for personal and professional development. Healthy employees are more likely to remain at their current company, and 65% of worldwide employers believe that wellness programs attract and retain workers.
Reshaping Business Travel Recovery Post Covid-19
Global business travel is re-emerging, and companies are a big reason for this trend. With the amount of time spent on the road, it’s critical to find a solution that can make employees feel safe and comfortable when away from home. Full-time workers in the US with chronic health conditions miss 450 million additional days of work each year compared to healthy workers. For those who travel for work, this is where employee corporate housing and wellness lifestyle comes into play. This kind of accommodation provides a wide variety of benefits to the business, including:
- Curated nutritional guidance that keeps any specific dietary restrictions in mind
- Access to social groups to help the employees meet others who share the same healthy hobbies
- Clean, safe, and fully furnished residences
- Living like a local in an upscale residential community to acclimate easier
- Meal kit subscription services with healthy recipes
- Spin, Pilates, Yoga, Cardio Boxing, and HIIT classes to stay fit and active
It shouldn’t feel like an employee is outside of their element during business travel. They should feel just as at home so they can focus on doing their best work. That’s why it is important to plan ahead and do everything in your power to ensure the business travel your employees will be engaged in during 2021 goes as smoothly as possible.
As a final note, equipping employees to feel their best also prepares them for doing their best. So, companies who go the extra mile to ensure positive outcomes with business travel will help fortify employee satisfaction and maximize return on investment.
Daniel Corridon is the CO-Founder and CEO of Stay Fit, a disruptor in the global extended stay category. In 2016, StayFit was voted one of “America’s Best Entrepreneurial Companies” by Entrepreneur Magazine. In addition to his time at StayFit, Dan has over 2 decades of experience at the executive level, has a certificate from Yale in the Science of Well Being, and currently serves on the Advisory Board of COMPETE Co.