The secret benefits and perks
There are some secret benefits of work travel that everyone should take advantage of. Some of the more obvious ones are hotel and airline points. However, there are some company specific policies that everyone should inquire about.
Alternative travel – some companies have a policy for alternative travel. This is when an employee can pick a different destination to fly to rather than home. Organizations like saving money. Thus, if the flight to the alternative destination cheaper than flying home, they will usually allow it.
Partner travel – companies with employees fly an exorbitant amount understand the impact this can have on family and friends. The fix: companies offer partner travel, where the employee can take have their partner join them on a work trip.
Stay the weekend – if you’re traveling for work to a location that is on your list of vacation destinations, stay the weekend. Your company won’t foot the bill for extra hotel nights. However, you get to save the money on the flight. This serves as a great opportunity explore a new city at a reduced price.
The personal benefits
Outside of the typical secret benefits to travel, there are also personal improvements that can be gained.
Confidence – work travel, especially to foreign places, helps build confidence. It forces you to step out of your comfort zone and learn how to deal with environmental uncertainty. Being able to tackle uncomfortable situations will help build confidence. This allows an individual to step into any situation and tackle it head on.
Creative problem solving – learning how to navigate new metro systems or how to translate a menu helps build creative problem-solving skills. We can practice for presentations or a sales pitch. Traveling gives us rare opportunities to practice solving novel problems. This helps round out our problem-solving tool set, which we can apply to work situations.
Managing the unexpected – travel has a tendency to throw curve ball situations. Cancelled flights to lost luggage can throw a person off. Lessons from how to tackle these situations can translate to business as well. For example, if you are doing business with a client from a different culture, you can learn different ways to pick up on social cues and norms. It also helps build resilience.
Why businesses should consider it
Agreeably, work travel can amount to a significant expense for some businesses. However, it does generate value for an organization. Here are some reasons why businesses should consider sending an employee onsite rather than remote:
Face time is valuable – being in person with other colleagues or clients builds bonds. There are many talking points that arise from work travel. From small talk and stories about family, friends. Even the concept of work travel is a talking point. This is not something you can replicate through a Zoom call.
Save a failing project or sale – as a personal anecdote, in my past life as an IT Consultant, anytime a project was about to derail, going onsite was the first thing I would do to meet and speak with the team. This invariably saves the project from being cancelled. Being at the client site in person gets me dedicated time with a project sponsor to talk through the real issues, and to put together a plan of action. Yes – these are all things that can be done from the comfort of my home office, however being with the client forced both parties to make the project the number one priority.
Enriching experience for employees – work travel can be an enriching experience for employees as it gives them an opportunity to experience work in a different format. For conferences, employees get meet peers in their field and industry. If it is a client visit, employees can build upon their relationships with their clients in a different way. All of these experiences enrich the standard work done at a desk for an employee.
Future of work travel
With the pandemic proving that work can be done remotely, we can expect that many organizations will cut back on onsite engagements. However, leaders should not dismiss the benefits of in person engagements for cost savings. Where it counts, leaders should still make an effort for in person (of course when it is safe). For example, the first meeting for a large project should still be done in person to help the team build bonds. These bonds pay dividends in the long run.
- Individuals who travel for work can expect to build confidence, creative problem-solving skills, and resilience.
- Having an employee onsite for a client engagement or for a sales pitch still has value that is not easily replicated through remote sessions.
- When it is safe, companies should evaluate where it is most valuable for employees to travel for work, whether it be to meet a client or for a conference.