Work commitments see many of us take to the road for long-distance road trips in order to make meetings and visit clients.
As an employer, asking employees to travel can often be overlooked as just another part of their job description, but it’s necessary they’re given the right support when embarking on long-distance journeys.
A recent study by iCarhire.com revealed employee habits on business trips. Asking 1,000 Republic of Ireland residents on their views of what to do on the road provides insight and advice for businesses on how to better support their employees when taking to the road on behalf of the organization.
1) Don’t make trips too long
Spending too long in the car can take its toll; finding a balance between the requirements of the trip and how long remains on the journey is an important consideration for employers. The average road for Irish drivers is 11.6 hours, including breaks, but this falls to nine hours for those who said they travel on business.
It’s recommended that you drive no more than eight hours each day. Unless the trip involves a substantial stop or a ferry journey, this should be your maximum, otherwise you’re asking too much of your employees and could be putting them at risk.
8 hours on the road should get you to most locations in Ireland, and if you’re traveling to the rest of the UK, the ferry break will help you break up the driving and allow your employees to reach destinations further afield without spending too long behind the wheel.
2) Allow them to take a passenger
Long haul travel alone can be draining, particularly with the prospect of work at the other end. Having a passenger with you can make a journey seem both quicker and more enjoyable. 88% of people said they would rather travel with someone when faced with a lengthy business trip.
Giving employees the freedom to take someone with them on their journey will improve their time in the car and show them you understand the commitment they’re making for your business.
Having someone with them is also safer as time behind the wheel could be shared, and they would have a passenger to help with navigation. Making the decision to send them with a colleague could be a mistake, however. Just 1% of people said they’d want to undertake a road trip with a colleague.
Given the choice, there is only really one person employees would like to travel with on their way to meetings and conferences, and that’s their partner. If it’s possible, giving employees permission to take their partners with them could help support them on these business trips.
3) Be clear on expenses
Giving employees clarity on what they can expense when traveling to meetings is important. These trips can be expensive – when asked on the most popular reasons to stop while on the road, 81% to eat, 75% said to buy a caffeinated drink, and 71% said they stop for fuel. All of these involve spending money that employees wouldn’t normally need to if they weren’t on the road.
Being clear on what they can expense on the company will allow them to better manage their spends while traveling – while being generous could also add extra incentive to the trip.
Many employers overlook some of the menial spends that can add up when you’re away, but these costs can add up. Providing the added comfort that the long journey won’t hurt their bank account could help generate a more positive outlook on the trip.
4) Encourage regular breaks
Too long behind the wheel can cause us to feel uncomfortable and drowsy, which can be dangerous. As an employer, you must encourage your employees to take regular breaks when they travel long distance for work.
The AAA recommends that you should aim to stop at least every two hours you are on the road, but many Irish drivers don’t take breaks within this recommended window. The average length between breaks on the road is two hours and five minutes, with 35% stopping every three hours or less.
Not only is it important that drivers take regular breaks, but also make the most of them. Just 14% of workers traveling on business stop to take a nap, and 34% use their time to take a walk.
A short nap and a walk to stretch your legs are two of the best ways to refresh yourself if you’re feeling fatigued in the car. Instead, 75% choose to stop for a caffeinated drink. Emphasize the value of taking regular breaks to your employees to ensure they stay safe on the road and arrive in a positive mindset.
5) Choice of car and travel time
A break from the office to travel with work is an opportunity that many look forward to, but the long road trip doesn’t come without its difficulties. When asked what they find irritating on the road, 60% of those traveling on business said traffic jams and 28% find being uncomfortable in the car to be a problem.
To support employees with these common annoyances, allow them some freedom when it comes to the choice of car and time they undertake the journey.
Traveling at opportune times can help beat traffic and avoid bad drivers, which a further 58% said they found irritating on the road. Being comfortable in the car will make driving more enjoyable and help them feel more confident behind the wheel.
6) Be smart booking meetings
If employees are left with little time to spare when traveling for meetings and conferences, it can cause them to take minimal breaks or simply stop for an energy drink when tired rather than giving themselves time to freshen up and have a rest.
Spending long periods of time in the car can be tedious, so giving employees plenty of time to make the journey with regular stops is an effective way of supporting those going the extra mile for your company.
It’s also important for employee safety. Energy drinks are not a solution to tiredness and without proper rest, drowsiness can be a danger to the driver. Also, the stress of rushing to a meeting could lead to unsafe driving. Be smart when booking in meetings and conferences you want your employees to attend, allowing plenty of time for a safe and pleasant trip.
7) Provide means for navigation
Traveling long distance on business can often mean you don’t have the time to casually driving round in hunt of your destination as if you were on holiday. Supporting your employees can be as simple as providing the necessary means for them to find their way without any added stress.
Using a phone app was the most popular use of navigation with Irish drivers traveling on business, as 47% chose this as their preferred method of navigation.
Second, is using a built-in sat-nav, with 17% preferring this. Make sure the car they’re using has a built-in phone holder or a sat nav, so your employees can use these methods to easily navigate themselves on their business road trip.
Giving employees the necessary support for their road trips is important for the company as well as your staff’s wellbeing. A comfortable journey is likely to leave them in a better frame of mind to attend meetings and conferences and could result in a more positive outcome for your business. At little extra cost, you could see happier, safer, and more productive business trips.