Planes, trains and automobiles

Traveling for business is no picnic. Lack of sleep, poor diet and no exercise coupled with long treks to the airport and even longer waits in security lines take the pleasure out of any trip.

Some experts say all this stress cuts into the productivity of the businessman on the road. However, others believe that today’s technology makes the business traveler more productive than ever. Thanks to mobiles, laptops and PDAs, the traveler can take the office with him.

There are “huge frustrations” for today’s business traveler, says Peter Kite, director of client services for Business Travel International. He cited the time it takes to get to the airport. Road works make the M25 to Heathrow airport “a nightmare” – and then there is extra security which often means longer waits.

However, with a BlackBerry, one can put that time to good use. “It makes you feel better and takes away the frustration of waiting,” he said.

Kite said he recently took the train to London from Manchester where he noticed six out of seven passengers using laptops. 

“People are more productive if they can take the office with them by stretching the desktop to wherever they are so they can access systems,” said Andy Lake, editor of Flexibility, an online journal on flexible work.

However, a US study of 600 business travelers for the Kensington Technology Group found that “employees who travel for business are less productive when on the road”.

Reasons cited were too much time traveling to and from the airport, too busy with meetings, too much time spent in security lines, lack of connectivity, cramped space and fatigue or jet-lag.

Business managers acknowledge that fatigue and comfort should be considered in business travel. For long flights, business class can dramatically enhance productivity. 

“It pays to offer employees the comforts required with long haul travel – a sleeper bed and some decent airline food that most carriers offer in business class,” said John Patterson, head of HR for Diageo Africa, whose employees frequently travel from London to the African continent.

The Kensington study points out that personality is yet another factor in productivity on the road; some business travelers are more stressed than others.
“Somebody who is more adept at dealing with environments that have variations and multiplicity to them is more suited to travel, as opposed to somebody who likes their desk just so,” said Kevin Ota, a spokesman for Kensington.

Pauline Grant, a director at business psychology company YSC, agreed that individuals react differently to a heavy travel schedule.

“I find some busy people relish the time they have on planes and even in airport lounges,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for them to be totally away from external pressures and decide for themselves how they can use the hours.”

Yet many are not thrilled by business travel. Research by WebEx, an online meetings firm, indicates that almost half of the 200 senior executives surveyed “would rather suffer dinner with the in-laws than the stress of international airports.”

More than one third would rather scrub the toilet than undergo the hassle of checking in, the irritation of passport control and the ‘dead time’ lost sitting in the airport lounge.

Even those who tout the benefits of high tech tools when on the road for business say too much technology can be a source of stress. “You can’t get away from work. It’s inescapable and may make you feel more stressed,” added Lake.
PTOD – web feature – 27 Sept

Planes, trains and automobiles

By Leah Larkin

Traveling for business is no picnic. Lack of sleep, poor diet and no exercise coupled with long treks to the airport and even longer waits in security lines take the pleasure out of any trip.

Some experts say all this stress cuts into the productivity of the businessman on the road. However, others believe that today’s technology makes the business traveler more productive than ever. Thanks to mobiles, laptops and PDAs, the traveler can take the office with him.

There are “huge frustrations” for today’s business traveler, says Peter Kite, director of client services for Business Travel International. He cited the time it takes to get to the airport. Road works make the M25 to Heathrow airport “a nightmare” – and then there is extra security which often means longer waits.

However, with a BlackBerry, one can put that time to good use. “It makes you feel better and takes away the frustration of waiting,” he said.

Kite said he recently took the train to London from Manchester where he noticed six out of seven passengers using laptops. 

“People are more productive if they can take the office with them by stretching the desktop to wherever they are so they can access systems,” said Andy Lake, editor of Flexibility, an online journal on flexible work.

However, a US study of 600 business travelers for the Kensington Technology Group found that “employees who travel for business are less productive when on the road”.

Reasons cited were too much time traveling to and from the airport, too busy with meetings, too much time spent in security lines, lack of connectivity, cramped space and fatigue or jet-lag.

Business managers acknowledge that fatigue and comfort should be considered in business travel. For long flights, business class can dramatically enhance productivity. 

“It pays to offer employees the comforts required with long haul travel – a sleeper bed and some decent airline food that most carriers offer in business class,” said John Patterson, head of HR for Diageo Africa, whose employees frequently travel from London to the African continent.

The Kensington study points out that personality is yet another factor in productivity on the road; some business travelers are more stressed than others.
“Somebody who is more adept at dealing with environments that have variations and multiplicity to them is more suited to travel, as opposed to somebody who likes their desk just so,” said Kevin Ota, a spokesman for Kensington.

Pauline Grant, a director at business psychology company YSC, agreed that individuals react differently to a heavy travel schedule.

“I find some busy people relish the time they have on planes and even in airport lounges,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for them to be totally away from external pressures and decide for themselves how they can use the hours.”

Yet many are not thrilled by business travel. Research by WebEx, an online meetings firm, indicates that almost half of the 200 senior executives surveyed “would rather suffer dinner with the in-laws than the stress of international airports.”

More than one third would rather scrub the toilet than undergo the hassle of checking in, the irritation of passport control and the ‘dead time’ lost sitting in the airport lounge.

Even those who tout the benefits of high tech tools when on the road for business say too much technology can be a source of stress. “You can’t get away from work. It’s inescapable and may make you feel more stressed,” added Lake.

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