Jetting off on business may seem like a welcome escape from the daily grind but it can also be seriously disruptive with constant calls from the office and anxiety about the inevitable post-trip catch up detracting from the enjoyment of the trip.
This is particularly true of small-and-medium sized businesses where management tends to be more hands on and where the demands on them while away from the office may be more keenly felt.
The always-on digital economy means that it’s business as usual, no matter where in the world you are. Your colleagues and customers will still expect you to respond promptly and solve problems despite time-zone differences and unfamiliar surroundings.
At the same time you need to do the business for which you’re travelling, not least to justify the cost of your trip and the time out of the office.
It can be a tricky, stressful balancing act but there are some business travel hacks that can make it easier to manage.
Here are some practical suggestions for being productive when travelling on business.
Use ‘downtime’ intelligently: By-and-large aircraft are still the one place in the world where you can get a bit of quiet time. Use it to catch up on all those nagging little things you keep meaning to get to, but never seem to have the time.
You’ll get off the ‘plane with a feeling of accomplishment. Alternatively the time to yourself can be a good opportunity to think strategically or creatively about an issue or problem.
On the other hand using the time in the air to try and bang out the presentation you’re doing the next day isn’t smart. I’ll add to your anxiety and no matter how hard you work you’ll still feel unprepared.
Relax, but don’t go overboard: While air travel can provide valuable catch-up time, it is also a good chance to relax and de-stress without any interruptions.
Take in a movie and chill out, but don’t be tempted to spend all night watching box-office hits. You’ll be exhausted the next day. Similarly enjoy a glass of the Burgundy, but don’t overdo it.
Seize the shortcuts: Online check in saves you time at the airport and using the BA app to save your boarding pass to your ‘phone means one less piece of paper to lose.
There are plenty of other ways to ease your journey through the airport. If you’re flying to a trade show and know your baggage is going to be overweight you’ll save yourself time and money if you pay for the excess luggage online before you get to the airport.
Take up the power: How do you spot the seasoned business travellers in an airline lounge? They’re the ones charging up their phones and devices. British Airways discovered that customer satisfaction scores rose when they increased the number of charging points in their Heathrow lounges.
There’s a good reason for this: few things are more irritating than trying to clear you inbox or return a call and running out of power. It’s a good idea to carry a power bank in case of emergencies.
Bear in mind that in some countries your phone and other devices can be confiscated if you aren’t able to turn them on.
Plan realistically: After an 11-hour flight across one or two timezones you’ll be good for a few early morning meetings, but will probably fade towards the evening so, if you can, schedule your big pitch presentation earlier in the day.
If you’re travelling across more timezones schedule some time to rest and catch up on your sleep. You’re not doing anyone any favours by bungling things because you’re exhausted.
Be inspired: See what you can learn and take back from other cultures or different ways of doing things. A business traveller tells of some insights resulting from a recent trip to San Jose including ensuring meetings last no longer than 30 minutes.
One way of achieving this is to have standing meetings, rather than letting the participants get too comfortable in their ergonomic chairs. Some social media platforms now offer walking meetings. Another suggestion is to allow employees to spend a proportion of their time on personal projects.