As technology grows and continues to infiltrate every aspect of our lives, it increasingly blurs the line between work and home. Actively contactable at nearly every hour of the day, we are checking emails or taking calls at times previously unheard of.
NB This is a viewpoint by Ross Fastuca, CIO and co-founder of Travelport Locomote.
With business expectations creeping into more and more of an employee’s home life, businesses and employees are increasingly on the lookout for new ways to encourage work-life balance – and quickly realising it’s possible to save both time and money by combining business and pleasure.
The travel buzzword of 2017
The combination of business and leisure travel is now known as bleisure. The idea is that employees add a day or two of holiday time onto the end or the beginning of a business trip. It’s not a new concept – business travellers have often added a day or two onto a trip in a new or exciting location.
But today, the benefits are being recognised as employers strive to find ways to offer their staff a better work-life balance.
Adding personal travel to business travel adds value to work assignments – which means that bleisure could improve employee happiness and engagement without additional business costs.
Technology is driving the trend
Technology innovation and the accessibility of mobile devices has given rise to bleisure opportunities. With the number of computer-based, mobile jobs on the rise, it’s easier than ever to work responsibly and productively away from the office.
Consider the time spent between destinations, waiting to board planes, or sitting at hotels. One of the key benefits of increased connectivity in our society is that we are able to work on the go – the hours in between are no longer lost business hours or costs.
The most obvious of technology innovations – online check-in or access to wifi while in the air or at the airport – has streamlined the entire process, helping to offset the cost to a businesses while simplifying the experience overall for employees.
Business travellers have access to all the information they need to capitalise on bleisure opportunities – the best times and places to visit, or how to minimise wasted time in between – right at their fingertips. Even the growth of the sharing economy makes it more appealing and more affordable for business travellers to extend travel.
Apps make it possible to jump between business and personal expenses, while innovations such as Airbnb make extended accommodation affordable, and Uber makes it easier to move around. All can be researched and booked at the click of a button.
Happy employee, happy life?
For some employees, business travel can be a mental and physical burden. Many businesses are capitalising on the growth of the bleisure trend, recognising that a happier corporate traveller is more likely to be more productive and successful in business.
It’s about looking beyond the expectations you have of an employees and asking what you can do to help enrich their experience and happiness while travelling. By adding a few personal days on to a business trip, an employee is likely to feel that the trip has been both personally and professionally rewarding, growing an increased trust and loyalty between both employee and employer.
Beyond simply improving the employee-employer relationship, businesses looking to extend their travel policies to include bleisure should consider having formal policies in places to ensure the cooperation of employees.
If a business is providing the opportunity to blend corporate and personal travel, it’s important that it, and the traveller, understands the resources available while on the leisure portion of their trip. Businesses should have a clear policy in place around preferred suppliers and booking channels, as well as rules for reimbursing expenses incurred by non-employees.
For those willing to ditch the all-work-no-play approach to business travel, the benefits for both parties are significant.