With travel back in full swing, many of us are leaving our home offices once again for face-to-face meetings or events in clients’ or colleagues’ work locations. But for some of us, adjusting to working on-the-go again can mean a dip in productivity.
“Being highly productive while travelling is particularly challenging 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,” says Tom Walley, Global Managing Director at Corporate Traveller.
In his role, Walley has to oversee hundreds of employees around the world, meaning that every month, he travels between cities including Perth, Toronto, Los Angeles, New York and London.
“The cost of slowing your usual productivity, however, is plenty of stress and late nights when you do return to HQ,” he says. “Just because you’re travelling, your personal productivity and that of your team back at HQ should not slow down if you plan carefully and have the right technologies in place. There is also a way to avoid late nights working in your hotel room.”
Ahead, Walley shares his ways for keeping his productivity high while travelling. While some are no-brainers, they’re still worth noting as they can make all the difference in ensuring you’re still getting work done as you travel for business.
Delegate Before You Travel
To avoid burnout or missed deadlines, before you head off, set realistic expectations and talk openly with your team or managers about what you will and won’t be able to do while travelling, says Walley.
“If you have a very tight business trip planned, you will not be able to complete the same workload that you would in the office,” he says. “Delegate tasks to in-office team members to help maintain productivity in the workplace. If you’re travelling with a team, ensure each person has a balanced workload they can effectively manage.”
Ensure All Your Digital Comms Are Set Up
Also before you head, ensure all your mobile digital communication like WhatsApp and the Microsoft Teams app are set up — and ensure all relevant documents are loaded onto them, says Walley.
Use cloud drives like Google Drive or Dropbox to store large files, but check beforehand if their available free space is adequate for all your files or if you’ll need to upgrade, and if they support all your file types.
Use Your Most Productive Time of Day for Desk Work
If possible, try to dedicate one or two time slots per day — when you know you’ll be more productive — to desk-based work, like presentation updates, approvals, team meetings and any management issues back at HQ, says Walley.
“The most productive travellers go beyond this and develop a realistic schedule of meetings, desk work, travel time and leisure activities before their trip to prevent them from taking on impromptu and unnecessary activities on their trip,” he says.
Next, Walley recommends making 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,” he says.
Be Extremely Selective With Your Time
Though it can easily happen, don’t let your travel schedule unravel, says Walley.
His tips? 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.
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, says Walley.
Use Your Hotel or Mealtimes for Meetings
Be strategic with when and where you have meetings. 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.
“Meeting this way can relieve your stress on a jam-packed work trip and lighten the meeting atmosphere. Clients and suppliers will understand that when you are travelling for business, you are trying to squeeze in as many meetings as you can, and they are more likely to accept a meeting over a meal, coffee or at a hotel.”
Ensure You’ll Have WiFi
Finally, know that comfortable internet browsing requires a broadband connection of at least 25Mpbs to support up to two devices, so check beforehand you’ll be able to support that, says Walley. When travelling with colleagues, ensure you have 100-200Mpbs internet speeds 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,” says Walley. “When travelling internationally, you’ll need to weigh up the capabilities of your mobile phone plan, particularly its international roaming offering. For instance, some providers offer as little as $5 per day for international roaming through your existing phone plan. For longer trips, you may benefit from purchasing a local SIM card.”