Are business travelers traveling too much?
Thursday, January 02, 2020
While it is not news that frequent travel can be bad for your health, studies by global corporate travel management company CWT findthat the psychological effects can be just as disconcerting as the physical erosion.
Independent research commissioned by CWT, the business-to-business-for-employees (B2B4E) travel management platform, has revealed that the concerns most frequent travelers have about their lives and lifestyles should be addressed. The two biggest worries that affect frequent business travelers around the world are home life deterioration and putting pressure on colleagues.
When it comes to their personal life, more than one in five (22%) of those surveyed in the CWT study believe their business travel commitments erode the quality of their relationships and homelife, while 21% worry their families think they prefer traveling for work more than their day-to-day home life responsibilities.
On the professional side, 22% admitted to feeling guilty that their colleagues have to bear the load of their work while absent. Some 21% expressed stress over spending too much time with co-workers or clients, and 14% discussed concerned about the difficulty of staying in touch with people in their main office.
“Even though the same research reveals that business travelers feel that positives outweigh negatives at work (92%) and at home (82%) when traveling for business, companies need to be aware of the concerns that business travelers face and help to address them head-on,” said Catherine Maguire-Vielle, CWT’s EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer. “Relationships are a fundamental part of a person’s wellbeing and companies have the obligation to ensure their employees’ travels are not jeopardizing them at home or in the office.”
Infographic courtesy CWT
When looking at regional differences amongst frequent business travelers, Americans are in general the biggest worriers versus their European and Asia-Pacific counterparts. Some 26% believe their home and personal relationships suffer versus 23% of Europeans and 18% of Asia-Pacific travelers.
Twenty-three percent claim that spending too much time with co-workers or clients on the road can be stressful versus the same percentage of Europeans and 19% of Asia-Pacific travelers. Twenty-two percent are concerned that their families think they enjoy traveling for work more than their day-to-day home life responsibilities versus 17% of Europeans and 23% of travelers from Asia Pacific.
That said, Americans are less concerned about the difficulty of staying in touch with people in their main office (13% versus 14% of Europeans and Asia-Pacific travelers) and coworkers picking up the slack (16% versus 25% of Asia-Pacific travelers and 24% of Europeans).
Boomers in Asia-Pacific and Europe are more likely to say that home and personal relationships suffer when they travel. However, in the Americas, Gen X travelers take the lead.
The Gen X travelers are also most worried about colleagues picking up the slack. They scored the highest percentage in the three regions.
Millennials score higher than the two other generations in every region when it comes to being concerned about their families believing that they enjoy traveling for work more than their day-to-day home life and responsibilities, and about the difficulty of staying in touch with people in their main office.
When it comes to the stress caused by spending too much time with coworkers or clients on the road, generational differences vary in every region. In Asia-Pacific Millennials come first; in the Americas, Boomers and, in Europe, Gen X and Boomers are even.
Seminal research from the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Surrey concurs with these findings. A 2015 study found frequent travelers —here they are called “hypermobile travelers” — age faster, are exposed to excess radiation, have weakened immune systems from continued sleep disruptions, tend to be out of shape and overweight and often suffer from stress and mental health issues. The loneliness of the long distance road warrior is often dangerously combined with the anger and resentment of a spouse at home.
“One study found that employees of the World Bank who travel frequently for work have a threefold increase in psychological claims on medical insurance as opposed to nontravelers,” said Scott Cohen, deputy director of research of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Surrey in a report published in Fast Company.
“[Business travel] has a wide range of physiological, psychological and emotional, and social consequences that are often overlooked, because being a ‘road warrior’ tends to get glamorized through marketing and social media. There is the stress of preparing for a trip, the fact that the time spent traveling is rarely offset through a reduced workload.
He suggests frequent travelers: “feel out whether there might be an opportunity to substitute a face-to-face visit with teleconferencing — often it is necessary to meet someone for the first time in person, but after that, teleconferencing can often get the job done.”
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