Long days and early starts can be a side effect of travelling for meetings, but it doesn’t need to be this way.
Business development director Donna Fitzgerald shares her advice on ways you can look after your own wellbeing when travelling on business.
1. Travel smarter
Anyone who works or has worked in a business development role will guess that my days are incredibly busy and varied. One day I may be meeting prospective customers; another day I may be at an event such as the Business Travel Show London or PA Life Masterclass, so I can be on the road a lot. As our proposition is all about Smarter Working, if I’m meeting customers or internal stakeholders, I speak to them about when is the best and mutually convenient time to meet. Let’s face it, not everyone enjoys getting up at the crack of dawn for a meeting, and scheduling them to start after 10am can reduce costs through off-peak rail fares if you’re travelling by train.
2. Think about location
Always consider all of your guests if you’re planning a meeting on behalf of everyone. This will help you decide on the optimum place to meet. For instance, if you have people travelling from Bristol, London and Manchester, Birmingham may be the best location in terms of total cost of travel, and the time it takes for people to travel to and from your meeting venue.
3. Put safety first
A good example of putting safety first is around the use of taxis, so if you need a taxi, will you flag one down or use a company-approved organisation? Taxi policies can be hugely overlooked by many companies, but NYS Corporate have partnered with the managed taxi service Cabfind to help support our customers’ employee duty of care. When getting a taxi, always make sure to pre-book, ensuring confidence from using the services of approved and vetted suppliers. This is especially helpful when arriving late at night or travelling to an unfamiliar location.
We also recently joined forces with Maiden Voyage to help identify and certify hotels that are female-friendly and suitable for lone travellers. Hotels may, for example, have a reception that is staffed 24/7 or restaurant facilities available on-site. These small things are convenient and can help with stress when you are travelling alone or in a city that is new to you.
4. Consider viable alternatives to travel
We always try to reduce the demand to travel where possible. Across our customer base, 70% of travel is usually related to internal meetings. Encourage your colleagues to meet smarter and again consider when and where they are going, who is attending and where they are coming from. The relationship-building value of face-to-face meetings is well publicised, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of technology as a viable alternative to travel more often.
5. Get educated
We recently carried out research which showed that 82% of those surveyed didn’t understand how to use video or web conferencing technology. Many employees want to travel less as it is better for health and wellbeing, but they need education around technology. If you are using web conferencing for the first time with a customer and it doesn’t work, you will be nervous about using it again. Training is therefore key. If you have the right virtual solutions, and education on how to get the best from it, a culture of using this technology is more easily encouraged.
6. Take your meetings outside
This year I’m trying to build more exercise and fresh air into my routine. When you are working from home or in an office, it’s really important to get up and move, and I use my smart watch to set reminders. I also try to integrate outdoor meetings into my daily routine. The benefits of outdoor meetings include increased creativity and motivation. Only last week I had a walking meeting with a colleague, and by the end of it, I felt refreshed, energised and ready to tackle any challenges that I faced throughout the day!
Business travel is intrinsically linked with employee wellness and absenteeism, so take the first step towards looking after yourself, your colleagues and your employees.