Having the freedom to travel is likely one of the biggest employee perks today. Employees are fed up with confining themselves to a four-walled cubicle and being stuck with a nine-to-five job. For most people, a dream job means plenty of travel opportunities and room to grow professionally. Nothing feels good about being able to work in different countries while enjoying their culture. For example, if you are assigned to go on a business trip to the Lion City of Asia, you’ll likely consider the best destinations to visit and ask yourself, where to eat in Singapore?
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, companies had to suspend business trips and international transactions to protect their employees from contracting the virus overseas. Fast forward to 2021, people are getting vaccinated, and many countries are slowly reopening their borders for tourism and business travels. This brings into question whether companies will allow their employees to travel again.
A lot of factors need to be considered when allowing an employee to travel during a pandemic. You have to ensure they’re safe while increasing efficiency and reducing unnecessary spending. It’s also important to consider unexpected issues that may arise during the business trip. With this in mind, we’ll talk about the ways to handle business trips while keeping your employees safe, happy, and productive.
Prioritize employee safety
Traveling during a pandemic can be risky. Some companies avoid trips altogether, while others take active measures to ensure the safety of their employees.
Businesses that involve a lot of traveling invest in travel safety training. It’s also one of the biggest priorities of most business travelers, particularly female employees who experienced mistreatment or harassment while traveling and those who regularly modify their travel plans because they feel unsafe.
Organize a travel safety training before sending off employees. You should also consider their sleeping arrangements, whether they’ll be staying at a hotel or Airbnb rental. More importantly, never put them in unsafe accommodation just to save money.
If you are sending your employee overseas, check the country’s infection rates and how they are handling the pandemic. For good measure, consider making preventive arrangements, such as vaccination checks, medical check-ups, travel insurance, and methods of seeking medical support abroad.
If you are sending off an employee who has a preexisting medical condition, know the potential health risks if their trip aggravates their symptoms. Help them arrange a destination with access to adequate healthcare facilities.
Reimburse their travel expenses
A recent survey found that many employees working in small businesses forfeited their travel expenses, amounting to at least $893 for each person. Most of their reason is the expense wasn’t worth filing, or their company never reimbursed the money owed.
It can be quite frustrating to go on a business trip and use your own money for the travel expenses while getting no reimbursements in return. Believe it or not, this is a common occurrence among traveling employees, which caused them extreme resentment against their company. This also drives them to avoid business trips because of their previous encounters.
Having a clear set of company policies about travel expenses and reimbursement is undoubtedly important. Of course, you want to ensure that you won’t pay for your employees’ personal expenses when they go out shopping or clubbing! Require your employees to track their expenses and submit a complete financial report once they return. It may appear like a simple solution, but it can go a long way in avoiding issues down the road.
Embrace digital tools
Modern technologies today play an essential role in simplifying trips. Consider the travel experience of your employees and decide which technology can make their trips convenient. These include an expense tracking platform for monitoring travel expenses, itinerary management applications to organize trips, and instant communication tools to help teams communicate during the trip.
You may also consider technologies that support travel-related tasks. For example, if you’re sending them to meet partners at a trade show, you can set them up with a customer relationship management platform to allow them to distribute contact details and keep track of the people they encounter.
If you have the budget, you can also invest in travel gadgets for better convenience, such as app-connected travel bags, user-friendly flight applications, a portable smartphone charger, or applications that recommend places and activities to try during downtime.
Paying attention to your traveling employees’ safety during a pandemic shows how much you care for their well-being. Knowing how to manage their trip effectively can make a big difference in making future business trips a huge success.