A new analysis by researchers at the University of Surrey and Lund University describes two primary types of business travelers—those who embrace business travel and those who struggle with it. The report emphasizes that organizations must take steps to cut down on such travel, where possible.
Business travel is one of those things that you really cotton to—or you don’t.
That’s a key finding from a recent study from the University of Surrey and Lund University, which is a follow-up to a report by the researchers in 2015 on the impact of hypermobility.
For the new paper, “The Dark Side of Business Travel: A Media Comments analysis,” the researchers focused on comments made by travelers in response to the first paper, which drew much media interest and discussion. The researchers characterized the responses under two categories:
The flourishing hypermobile: A person who embraces being a frequent flier, making it a direct part of his or her happiness and overall identity. These individuals, if they do have problems with frequent travel, either deny the negative elements or have figured out ways to minimize their issues with the transit.
The floundering hypermobile: A person who considers frequent flying as a key reason for psychological distress, leading to a fragmented identity and other personal issues. These businesspeople often are looking for ways to cut down on their travel but aren’t sure if it’s possible, considering their employer.
The report says that overall, travelers want to reduce the amount of travel they do but are often unsure of how much power they have to do so. The authors say the onus is on employers to find ways to cut back on or limit the amount of travel their employees undertake.
The paper recommends an analysis of human resource management practices along with strategic discussions on how to improve the situation, which the paper says “has the potential to create co-benefits for occupational health and well-being and environmental sustainability.”
Surrey University’s Dr. Scott Cohen, the lead author, suggested that legal problems could arise in the coming years if the issues of work-life balance inherent with business travel weren’t addressed.
“In the next 10–15 years it is very possible that we will see lawsuits being brought against companies who don’t take actions to help reduce their employees’ business travel,” Cohen explained in a news release. “As this paper concludes, business travel reductions for individuals are unlikely to take place unless they are driven top down by a Human Resources department with a clearly defined well-being strategy for corporate travel.”