The Negative Impact of Frequent Business Travel

The lifestyle of an international business traveller is often portrayed as glamorous and exciting in modern films and advertisements, however a recent academic study has shown that the reality can be far from luxurious.

In, A Darker Side of Hypermobility, Dr Scott Cohen and Prof Stefan Gossling from the University of Surrey, explore the negative impact that frequent business travel can have on an individual’s health and social life.

The study puts forward the argument that the rise of low-cost travel, as well the introduction of air mile reward schemes, make it increasingly common for companies to send their employees around the globe, often at short notice. Frequent business travel is synonymous with a high social status, offering the opportunity for employees to see the world and the ability to conduct meetings face-to-face; an important custom in some cultures.

Despite the positives, the wellbeing of the traveller is not always considered. Common health complaints range from the obvious, such as jet-lag and stress, to less-considered psychological issues such as anxiety and loneliness.

The paper also suggests that long periods away from home can weaken personal relationships, particularly if the traveller has children. This can lead to feelings of isolation and resentment, for both the employee and the family left at home. There is evidence to suggest that extended periods of absence from important family events can lead to the loss of a “family role”, the consequences of this negatively affecting the children’s behaviour due to the emotional impact of a parent being away.

While this may seem dramatic, it is advisable for global companies to consider how often they really need to send the same employee away on business, particularly if they have responsibilities at home. By staggering the trips throughout the year, or dividing the trips between a team, the stress of hypermobility can be reduced.

Having a good mobility policy in place can help to mitigate some of the negative consequences of frequent travel, and taking small steps to make business travel as undemanding as possible can go a long way to ensuring an employee’s long-term welfare and happiness.

Please contact us if you would like any advice on implementing a global mobility policy that includes frequent business travellers.

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