How to Ease Back Into Work Travel

April 2022
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For many employees, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to remote work and a long break from travel. After two years and a 90% drop in business travel, these trips seem to be picking up again. However, returning to the road, and the skies, takes some getting used to.

“Individuals are having to remember how to pack efficiently, adjust to time zone changes and modify their meeting schedules — and that’s on top of monitoring differences in travel restrictions, quarantine requirements and COVID risk levels throughout the world,” says an article in the Harvard Business Review.

Before choosing to travel, decide if it’s worth it. Will the trip add the greatest benefit to your work, or can the conversation happen just as easily in a virtual format? Also do you need to add all of your travel back in, or can you choose only a few important trips? 

Think about times when you were working from home and your results could have been enhanced by a face-to-face interaction. Is an in-person conference or networking opportunity more additive, or will traveling to a site facilitate better communication?

Rather than visiting clients quarterly as you previously did, for example, you could try doing two in-person and two virtual visits. Consider if your relationship with a client stayed the same or grew with virtual interactions, or if it suffered; then prioritize accordingly.

Make sure to monitor what’s happening around the world with risk levels, travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, as it might make sense to stay put or to have the other party come to you instead. 

Also keep in mind that there are global supply chain issues, and that airlines and hotels have had operational and staffing problems. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your meetings and events, and prepare for last-minute cancellations, possible closures and fewer options and amenities. Book rental cars and make reservations in advance, plan for alternative transport and note any destination-specific requirements. 

“If you used to travel multiple times a month, start with just one trip every 30 days and see how you feel. If you’re feeling OK in terms of time and energy, then you can add in more,” says Harvard Business Review

Start small to see how you handle jet lag and being away from home, and give yourself flexibility and extra time to avoid burnout. Here are a few more tips to help you ease into travel gradually.

• Evaluate the benefit.
• Right-size the investment.
• Pace yourself.
• Leave a margin, and double-check everything.

Return to Current Issue Employee Communications | April 2022
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