Whether you work for an employer with multiple locations, or have dealings with outside firms in all parts of the globe, there's a chance you'll start taking your share of business trips once you reach a certain level at your company. In moderation, work-related travel can be a welcome break from the usual grind. After all, when you visit new locations, you get an opportunity to see different sights and experience different cultures -- all on somebody else's dime.
On the other hand, there comes a point when work travel turns into a negative thing -- especially when it gets excessive. If you find that you're living out of a suitcase more often than not, it's time to rethink your schedule and consider cutting back on all that travel. Here are just three reasons why.
1. Travel makes relationship-building a challenge
Traveling is a good way to expand your business network, which is always important. The downside, however, is that it might make it more difficult to build relationships with the people you work with full-time. After all, if you're traveling constantly, you're apt to miss a lot of key meetings and informal gatherings at, or around, the office, whether it's lunch with your teammates, or after-work happy hours.
2. Too much travel can impact your sleep schedule
It's one thing if you're mostly traveling locally, thus sticking to the same time zone day in and day out. But if you're frequently traveling cross-country or abroad, your body is apt to rebel at some point or another.
Most workers these days don't get enough sleep to begin with. It's estimated that 74% of full- and part-time U.S. employees get less than the recommended eight hours of sleep per night. But when you factor time-zone changes and lengthy flights into the mix, you're even more likely to start falling behind on that much needed shut-eye. And the more sleep deprived you become, the more likely it is to impact your job performance, not to mention your general outlook and health.
3. Travel might take away from your actual work time
One final problem with traveling frequently is that it can inhibit your productivity. Think about it: If you're spending several hours each week on an airplane, not to mention the time it takes getting to and from airports and checking luggage, that's time you're not spending sitting at your desk plugging away. And while you can, in theory, get work done on a train or plane, it's hard to focus when you're elbow-to-elbow with your fellow passengers and turbulence abounds.
A smarter approach to business travel
If you're going to travel often for work, aim to limit the amount of time you're spending away. For example, if you're based in the U.S., but need to visit several countries in Asia during the year, it pays to plan one longer trip than go back and forth multiple times. This way, you'll only have to deal once with a time-zone adjustment.
Another thing: Time your flights to allow for the maximum amount of sleep. If you're traveling from the U.S. to Europe, for example, take an overnight flight out so that you can attempt to sleep on the plane, arrive early the following morning, and regulate fairly quickly.
Finally, listen to your body and know when too much is too much. If you find that you're struggling to get on a decent sleep schedule even when you're back home, it's a sign that you're overdoing it.
Work travel can be a positive experience on multiple levels, but it shouldn't mess with your coworker relationships, health, and performance. If things reach that point, then it's time to cut back.