You’ve totally impressed your boss, she’s sending you on your first business trip . It might be a hassle, but it’s also a vote of confidence that you can take your skills away from the office and represent the company well. In addition to a change of scenery and getting out of your daily routine, another benefit of business travel is the potential for tacking on some time for fun while you’re out of the office. In fact, Ford’s second annual travel trends report highlights the extent to which the millennial generation is getting more comfortable with taking opportunities to blend business trips with personal travel. According to the report, one-third of American business travelers and 48 percent of millennials extended a work trip for leisure in the last year. Fifty-five percent of millennial business travelers say they take time for fun when they’re on the road for work often or always.
But just because you can mix business with pleasure doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t approach these kinds of hybrid trips with caution. We spoke with Sheryl Connelly, Ford’s manager of Global Consumer Trends and Futuring, about how to best set expectations around having fun while hitting the road in order to remain respectful of company time and money. Keep scrolling for eight suggestions to help navigate the situation like a pro.
1. Understand the company culture first. Put in a few years of work at your company before you start blurring the lines of business and personal travel. Take a few exclusively business trips too. There’s a lot you need to learn before you start pushing to work remotely. Is your boss focused on face time or on the tasks getting done under whatever circumstances? Is travel encouraged among your colleagues? Do people claim their vacation days with pride? Get confident about the answers to these questions before you go any further.
2. Build up plenty of goodwill. If you prove yourself to be an available employee who is ready and willing to get things done even outside of “normal” working hours, your supervisor will learn to trust your work ethic and will probably be more likely to honor your requests to add extra time onto your business travels. “Depending on the nature of your job, your industry, and your company, your ability to [get things done] during off-hours builds a lot of goodwill,” Connelly says.
3. Be clear about expenses. If there’s one thing you need to get really clear on when blending work and personal travel, it’s who’s footing the bill. When you’re ready to propose some flexibility on a work trip to your boss, be prepared to itemize the costs that you’ll be taking on yourself. Being proactive about this information will demonstrate that you have no intention of taking advantage of the company’s budget and might make your supervisor more comfortable discussing special arrangements.
4. Ask for permission instead of begging for forgiveness. When it comes to both money and time, your approach should be to overcommunicate with your boss well before your departure date so that everyone’s on the same page. Is it okay for you to be off the grid the morning before a big meeting so you can tour some historical landmarks? Can you use your company card to pay for ground transportation if you’re coming from a personal excursion but to a work event? It’s a lot easier to get clarity on these questions in advance than it is to negotiate them after the fact.
5. Commit to meeting relevant deadlines and lay out your plan. If you’re asking for approval to extend a business trip for a few days on the beach or looking for your supervisor to sign off on a handful of hours away from your laptop between professional commitments, it’s on you to explain how those allowances are going to impact your work and your ability to get tasks done on time. (Or, better yet, how they won’t impact those things.) Be self-assured in your ability to make it all work. “‘I’d like to take a little extra time and I’ll do my best to meet the deadline’ doesn’t fill me with the same level of confidence as ‘Consider it done — and while I’m there, I’ll take an extra day, with your permission,'” Connelly says. “Communicate clear expectations about the deliverables, the timeline, and the clear plan of how you’re going to meet your deadlines.”
6. Make a case for exploration as a launch pad for creativity . More and more, Connelly says, employers are understanding that downtime on a business trip — and personal travel, in general — can help cultivate a spirit of innovation in their teams. If you’ve been lacking inspo in your job recently, be honest with your boss about how some time to explore or relax might be key to restoring your creative energy.
7. Take advantage of short time periods. Balancing personal and professional travel is all about filling in the gaps in your time, especially if you haven’t been able to secure any additional “official” time off from your supervisor. Unless you work in a highly rigid environment, your employer probably doesn’t expect you to account for every hour, so check things off your travel bucket list between meetings and other commitments.
8. Figure out how to leverage local touring for your company’s benefit. In certain jobs and industries, time spent among locals and “on the ground” can actually be a huge professional benefit! Can you get to know your company’s target consumer better by interacting with locals during the day? Are there new business opportunities you can explore by being in a new location? If you think this might be true for you, make your case. You’ll feel more comfortable “multitasking” on company time and money if you’ve talked to your boss about how it can help your performance. “Understanding the history or context of a place can be really beneficial to a final deliverable,” Connelly says.
Do you squeeze in time for personal fun when you’re traveling for work? Tweet us @BritandCo !
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