Report exposes business travel stress

The extent that international business travel affects the wellbeing of those undertaking such journeys has been highlighted in survey of UK travellers.

Motion blurred abstract people walking to the airport terminal
The Opinium survey of 500 business travellers, commissioned by the global travel assistance organisation World Travel Protection, found that 81 per cent said they had experienced negative emotions while on work trips.
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Room for improvement on wellbeing policy implementation

Just over three-quarters of respondents said these emotions had affected their performance while abroad with stress, anxiety, exhaustion from jet lag and loneliness among the most common complaints.Additionally, 60 per cent reported that either they or a colleague had suffered from some form of harassment or exclusion on their travels, including unwanted attention due to their sexuality (15 per cent) and discrimination because of their ethnicity (12 per cent).While almost three-quarters said employee wellbeing was a policy priority for their organisations, only just over half felt these policies were being implemented effectively. Such a sentiment was highest among employees aged 34 or younger.Luke Banks, Regional Chief Medical Officer for the UK and Europe at World Travel Protection, said: “Looking after your staff’s wellbeing is crucial, especially when they’re working overseas."Not only is it the right thing to do, but it is actually an investment, as an individual’s poor wellbeing will have a significant effect on their productivity and effectiveness at work.”

Business travel recovery?

Meanwhile, a report from the Global Business Travel Association has found that work trips have a long way to go before they return to pre-pandemic levels.The report said that while business travel spending rose 5.5 per cent year-on-year to $697 billion last year, the total was still far below the $1.4 trillion spent in 2019.A recent survey of more than 16,000 business travellers across the Americas, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region - conducted by Morning Consult, a US-based global decision intelligence company - found that two-fifths of American respondents who had previously undertaken at least three business trips a year said they never expected to travel for business again.The decline was even more pronounced in parts of Europe, with 55 per cent of respondents in the UK and 59 per cent in 5.5 per cent year-on-year to $697 billion last year 5.5 per cent year-on-year to $697 billion last year saying they did not intend to travel for work again. This was in marked contrast to business people in India, China and Brazil, a majority of whom saw work trips in their future.Overall, however, the report concluded: "It is undeniable now that business travel will never return to a pre-pandemic normal.”

Climate change and business travel

A report on the Quartz website said: "One big reason business travel has lagged behind leisure travel in the wake of the pandemic is that people have adjusted to video conferencing and hybrid work."Now that we know how much work can get done over Zoom, the benefits of in-person interaction may not always be worth the trade-offs of flights to see customers and co-workers."Corporate belt-tightening is also making business trips less prevalent, particularly in the face of high inflation and (possibly overblown) concerns about a recession. Moreover, environmental concerns are making companies less cavalier about the carbon footprint of business travel."

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