Bleisure: Combine your travel with leisure to get the most out of your business
Most companies don’t have a strong negative stance on mixing business with leisure yet
For most business travellers I know, the work trip is limited to exploring inside the labyrinth of a hotel and its myriad conference rooms and restaurants.
For all of you who have done exactly this same thing every time you stepped out for work-related travel, you need a different way to look at life. Bleisure—mixing business with leisure—should be the new word in your vocabulary. Business leaders and managers should accommodate bleisure into their business travel policies, to account for work-life balance of their employees. While millennials are more prone to mixing up a bit of leisure activities on their business travels, everyone can do it. After all, one does not work 24X7 even when in the office, so why shouldn’t the same rules apply when out of the city? Many studies show that permitting bleisure travel leads to happier employees, who could be more productive when back in the office.
Most organizations don’t have a strong negative stance on mixing business with leisure just yet, so that leaves a grey area for you to explore. If there is no mention of not adding personal time to a business trip, a request to your approving authority should usually do the job. But if they are resistant to the idea, it might usually be the concern about who picks the tab for the extra day(s), so address that concern upfront.
A lot of organizations ignore the cost aspect of how allowing for weekend travel and consequent extra hotel days that would perhaps work out the same for them. If weekend travel is significantly cheaper than a workday and an employee wants to travel on a weekend, but add an extra hotel night, he or she should be ideally granted the request.
Many companies are accommodating and allow for associates to arrive a day early to facilitate acclimatization to the new city when travelling abroad. In which case, one could try and arrive on the earliest flight possible and get a whole extra day if possible. The same works after closing out the business part of your travel too. Anything more, and the organization would expect you to pick the tab of your hotel stay.
What is the etiquette around mixing up business and leisure though? You need to clearly agree with your organization about the days you are working, and hence the days they should pick the expenses for your trip. For your extra days, you should apply for leave and pick the tab for the hotel and food on your own. Another slant of mind could be about the timing of your leave. Perhaps it works better to add on your leave days at the end of the work trip rather than the beginning.
In terms of other expenses, the same thing qualifies. You should use your per diem for business days and cover your own costs on the days you are off work. And clearly communicate your plans to your manager and colleagues. For instance, “I am off to New York for 10 days", is not the same as “I will be spending a week in New York on business and then take leave for three days to explore the city." After all, your team and your manager need to leave you alone to do your own thing.
Another way to make bleisure trips work for you, is to go to bucket list places which are perhaps near the city you are working in. For instance, if you get the opportunity to visit Tokyo on work, you might want to tuck in a side trip to Mount Fuji along, which would be a day long affair.
Bleisure is all about perception. A lot of Indian organizations don’t trust it yet. So, if you went on one such trip, focus on all the business goals you were able to achieve during your trip once you come back, not on the leisure part. Over time, that should add to the trust factor of letting you travel for work and not wonder if you are vacationing on the company dime.
Make sure you do make the most out of your opportunity to go to a new place and soak in the sights.
Elevate Your Travel is a column for the business travellers by a business traveller.
Ajay Awtaney is founder and editor of Livefromalounge.com, a frequent-flyer website.