At Corporate Traveller, domestic business travel has now bounced back to near pre-Covid levels, with international travel not too far behind.
Corporate Traveller global managing director, Tom Walley shares his own tactics for keeping productivity levels high while travelling – from planning and prioritisation skills to discipline and innovative technologies.
“Being highly productive while travelling is particularly a challenge for business leaders who need to oversee and sign off on deliverables from their teams back home, join virtual meetings, approve budgets, and generally be available for their own managers or board, as well as urgent requests by their direct reports. Getting on impromptu calls, looking over important presentations and contracts are all part and parcel of the deliverables I need to meet while travelling,” Walley said.
Walley offers nine ways to maintain productivity when travelling for business.
1. Delegate before you travel. Set realistic expectations to avoid burn-out or missed deadlines and talk openly with your team or managers about what you will and won’t be able to do while travelling. If you have a tight business trip planned, you will not be able to complete the same workload that you would in the office. Delegate tasks to in-office team members to help maintain productivity in the workplace.
2. Set up your digital communication and synchronise your files. Before travel, I recommend messaging and virtual meeting apps used by the team on all devices – and synchronise documents and emails across them. You could store large files on Cloud drives such as Google Drive or Dropbox, which provide free capped storage.
3. Use your most productive time of day for desk work. If possible, dedicate one or two time slots per day to desk-based work such as presentation updates, approvals, team meetings and any management issues.The most productive travellers go beyond this and develop a realistic schedule of meetings, desk work, travel time and leisure activities before their trip.
4. Pre-book everything. Make advance bookings as much as possible. Not only flights and transfers, but also transport to and from meetings, meals out, any required in-room hotel meals, any essential hotel dry cleaning, and any leisure activities.
5. Be selective with your time. Don’t let your travel schedule unravel. Try to avoid meetings running past their scheduled times. Consider using rideshare rather than car hire, so you can work during the drive. Try to have a consistent sleep routine so you won’t need to nap in transit and try to use transit waiting times and flights for work.
6. Fly early. Book an early morning flight, and get a good night’s sleep beforehand, to ensure you have a full and productive day at your destination.
7. Use your hotel or mealtimes for meetings. Take shortcuts and multitask where possible. If you are staying at a four- or five-star city hotel, you could hold informal meetings for two or three in the lobby café. You could also gauge whether your stakeholders are open to meeting over lunch or dinner.
8. Get the best Wi-Fi everywhere. Choose flights and accommodation with the fastest Wi-Fi. Comfortable internet browsing requires a broadband connection of at least 25Mpbs to support up to two devices. When travelling with colleagues, ensure you have 100 to 200Mpbs internet to support multiple devices.
If you are travelling to a rural or regional area, take a prepaid pocket modem or dongle, available from most telco retailers. When travelling internationally, you will need to weigh up the capabilities of your mobile phone plan, particularly its international roaming offering.
9. Outsource your travel admin. Knowing what you should do yourself, and what you can rely on others for, is an essential part of remaining productive while travelling for work. An increasing number of businesses are partnering with travel management companies in this complex travel environment. You don’t want to think about flight delays, pandemic restrictions, and check-in requirements on a work trip.