Work and travel are eager to get back to some level of normalcy. Your company — raring to get back to pre-pandemic levels of business — is requesting you to take that business trip during covid to close that important deal. Are you a willing traveller? Or are you simply not ready yet? And how do you explain yourself to your boss and to HR?
A SAP Concur survey suggests that 96% of business travellers are ready to get back to taking that trip. That number has gone up since 2020, when only 45% were willing to travel. They expressed their anxiety was surrounding the travel itself – the safety of it all. The regular business travellers have a little more ken about themselves. We can imagine a big part of that anxiety comes from having to travel with the unseasoned traveller. God knows, they were annoying even pre-covid, what with their huge bags, phone talking, and of course, crying babies.
But we all have to navigate this — eventually if not right now. It’s worth scheduling a meeting with your bosses or HR to find out your options in the company. We have a little role-play here, where we made up a conversation between you and your handlers.
You: Can I avoid travel?
Boss/HR: Yes, of course you can. But think about it. You are double vaxxed (as you should be) and you can delay this but not put it off. And we think this trip will help close the deal for us. Flights are quite safe — stats show that very few people have got Covid from planes. It’s likely because of the new air that is being cleaned and circulated in the aircraft regularly.
You: Can I take my own transport?
Boss/HR: Sure, where possible of course you can drive. That’ll also avoid you needing to take local transport to commute when you reach.
You: Can I request that I fly only business class?
Boss/HR: It’s the same air in the plane, whether economy or business and you will be less than six feet from the next passenger. But if it’s important to you, the cost of upgrade will be yours.
You: Can I eat and drink on the flight?
Boss/HR: It is recommended that you eat and hydrate before the flight if possible. Avoid taking off your mask while on the plane. But for longer flights we understand that you need to eat. Keep your mask on as much as possible and take it off only to eat.
You: What if others on the flight are not wearing masks?
Boss/HR: It is within your prerogative to request them to. Alert the flight crew to help.
You: What about hotels, are they safe?
Boss/HR: Hotels have been crazily implementing safety protocols for guests and for their staff. But go ahead and call the hotel and ask them all your questions.
You: What about the meeting itself?
Boss/HR: That’s up to your comfort. Don’t shake hands if you don’t want to. Most people understand. Make some mouth noises about being Indian and doing the namaste. But for the most part people don’t take offence these days.
You: What about after the trip?
Boss/HR: We’ll let you work from home so you can quarantine to avoid infecting your family or other employees.