Believe it or not but many employees think business trips are simply free holidays but there is always a purpose and it’s never to party. Just because you are away from the office and perhaps out of the watchful eye of the boss or manager doesn’t mean you can let standards slide.
All too often there is a lack of focus on the purpose of the trip itself, with many workers viewing it as a fun trip rather than a business opportunity. This is particularly true for younger teams although even for managers and experienced execs it can be an issue, although they really should know better.
It’s worth reminding staff that just because they are away from base they still represent the company and the same standards that are expected in the office still apply on the road.
Researchers from workplace experts LondonOffices.com have investigated the most common mistakes made by employees travelling on business and how best to avoid them.
They found that many executives viewed business trips as a chance to let their hair down away from home and for many this led to a fall in professional standards.
Issues identified ranged from failing to prepare properly for meetings and being unclear on the purposes of the trip to getting horribly drunk and turning up for meetings late and reeking of alcohol.
1. Being underprepared
Preparation is pivotal to a successful business trip, so make sure to research, plan and write the itinerary in advance.
Another suitable precaution is to print out any relevant documents beforehand, as Wi-Fi can be unreliable, and reconfirm plans before departure, to avoid wasted time and costly cancellations.
2. Booking a poor hotel
Read plenty of online reviews to pick out the best hotel for your needs, but consider contacting them directly for a better price, and check the location; don’t stay off the beaten track and then spend the mornings stuck in local commuter traffic.
3. Making a poor first impression
Avoid getting off on the wrong foot, dress appropriately; know the context to avoid ‘smart-casual’ when ‘formal’ is necessary or vice versa. Greet with a firm but friendly handshake and smile, to show crucial confidence and consideration.
Crucially don’t overdo it in the hotel bar the night before a big meeting as turning up late, hungover and stinking of lager is definitely not going to impress.
4. Getting the meals wrong
Use online reviews to take the host to a restaurant with an appropriate atmosphere and cuisine to start fruitful relationship, but avoid dining in an expensive Michelin starred restaurant or draining the hotel mini-bar and only order room service as a last resort.
It is also advisable to have breakfast in the hotel for time efficiency; don’t skip this meal and be under-fuelled for the busy day ahead.
5. Forgetting about receipts
Business trips shouldn’t hit employees in the pocket, so retain all relevant receipts to forward to accounts; if it is not company policy to fully reimburse expenses, they can still be used for personal tax deductions.
6. Being unproductive.
Never forget that the trip is for business not leisure – stick to the itinerary or the daily agenda will be unachievable. Don’t waste time on minor tasks that could be completed via e-mail or phone, when other face to face priorities are more pressing.
It might be a great idea to take the client out for a meal or a drink but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to get hammered. Remember to act professionally at all times.
7. Staying in a comfort zone
Doing business in a fresh location is a perfect opportunity to network with potential new clients or colleagues and to seek out personal development opportunities.
A top tip is to ensure you have a healthy amount of business cards in your jacket or bag.
Spending a night or several travelling for business should not mean that regular hours are extended; neglecting sleep, food or water does not create a healthy business brain.
Of course the company agenda remains the priority, but perhaps consider looking into the local entertainment options in the evening.