Organizations don’t make the decision to send an employee on a business trip lightly. Business travel is expensive. It’s also hard on productivity because the employee isn’t in the office.
For the employee, business travel can be equally disruptive, especially the time spent in airports and on airplanes. We don’t have all of the office resources we’re accustomed to, like scanners, printers, and, in some cases, WiFi. But there are ways to use travel time in a productive way. Here are eight activities you can do to make the most of your time:
- Learn how to deal with jet lag. There’s nothing worse than spending a day on a plane only to arrive exhausted. Understanding how your body deals with jet lag can be valuable. It can give you tips to reduce the effects so you feel at your best. There are several books on jet lag, many have been written by airline professionals.
- Have a plan for air travel time. Jan Overstreet, manager of Unum’s enterprise travel program, says if you do need to work, identify activities that are easy to do (versus ones where you need a lot of space.) “While in flight, use the time to take photos of your receipts for expense reports, catch up on articles and white papers you’ve been saving for when you have a free minute (save these in a folder on your desktop so they’re accessible when you’re your off line). Managers could also use this time to write employee evaluations.”
- Stay hydrated. A key to being productive is feeling good. And feeling good means being hydrated. Be sure to drink lots of water and reduce salt intake. Also, be sure to take care of your skin. We often don’t think about the effects of a pressured airline cabin on our skin. The reduced humidity pulls moisture out of our skin. So consider wearing a little moisturizer before getting on a plane.
- Get noise-cancelling or noise-reducing headphones. If you’re trying to focus on work, the noises on the plane can be distracting – it might be passenger conversations, children playing, or even the sounds of the plane. Create a travel playlist. It can include music, podcasts, TV shows, or movies. On long flights, it might be nice to combine work with catching up on your favorite television show.
- Wear comfortable clothing. Part of being productive is being comfortable. We don’t have control over the comfort of the airline seat or whether a fellow passenger shares the armrest. We do have control over our clothing. It is possible to travel in something that’s both fashionable and comfortable. Also, layer to accommodate all temperatures.
- Plan for changes and delays. Weather and mechanical delays can be stressful. It can be frustrating to expect WiFi on a plane only to discover an equipment change has eliminated that option. Always consider having a Plan B. Whether it’s personal entertainment or professional work, having alternative things to do can make the time a little more productive.
- Use your technology devices wisely. Manage the battery life of your devices by taking advantage of WiFi, carrying a portable battery charger, etc. The last thing you want is to have the battery run low on your laptop when you’re trying to get work done. Also, learn how to send information and access your work files in a safe and secure way.
- Use apps to make your travels easier. Overstreet suggested three mobile apps that can make your travels more productive.
- GateGuru (available via iTunes and Android) provides terminal maps, restaurant reviews and locations, and most importantly the average wait time at each terminal check point.
- TripCase, named by Forbes as a top app in 2016, is a free app that allows users to get the most updated information and notifications on their flight changes/cancellations while they travel. Trips booked using Concur can be fed automatically into the app or you can choose to email the trip confirmation to TripCase and have it uploaded.
- Oanda’s Currency Converter is a great app for those traveling internationally. It’s easy to use and will even factor in the 2 percent ATM or 3 percent credit card fees so you’ll have an accurate total cost.
Business travel can be very stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Using our time in airports and on airplanes productively can make us feel good because we accomplished something. Maybe that will even give us some extra time during the trip for a fun activity.