Duty of care & corporate travel safety post-pandemic
Business travel is not what it used to be after 2.5 years into the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic fulfilling your duty of care and ensuring corporate travel safety was intended to support employee health, wellness and safety while traveling. Nowadays, travel planners are dealing with new issues such as trip cancellation, illness preventing employees from traveling, Covid restrictions, and the list goes on.
Duty of care is no longer about having one overarching solution to make for seamless business trips. It’s about protecting and preparing your employees so they can carry out their jobs outside of the office as well and as safely as possible. It’s about lending a helping hand to make a series of choices that puts your travelers at the least risk possible, ensuring successful and productive business trips.
Business travel duty of care has come a long way since the start of the pandemic but there are still some ways to come, so keep reading to find out how you can keep your travelers safe.
What is essential travel?
Essential travel during the pandemic meant that the following reasons were approved reasons to travel even when restrictions were in place: work and study, infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.
Any other kind of travel that was for tourism or recreational purposes was deemed “non-essential.” While most countries are open again for all forms of travel, before hitting the road, make sure to double check it’s okay to go ahead with your business trip as restrictions vary from country to country.
During the planning phase encourage your employees to consult resources like GetGoing’s Covid-19 Information Hub where you can access a travel risk map and get an up-to-date view on the travel panorama.
Travel risk management
Travel risk management is about ensuring that you have steps in place in order to protect your travelers, by anticipating, preventing, and reacting to dangers that business travelers may face on their journeys. While these risks have increased due to the pandemic, the idea is to compensate for these risks through effective planning, reliable support and regularly reviewing your travel program.
Some of the potential travel risks are:
- Economic health
The economy has a direct impact on business travel, influencing the products and services that are consumed, and the budget that companies have at disposal to travel, plus the economic situation also affects companies’ necessity to control costs.
- Climate change and extreme weather
Extreme weather is more and more becoming a regular occurrence. Floods, turbulent winds, hurricanes, extreme snow and earthquakes are real obstacles that business travelers will face. Travel teams must be ready to adapt policies in order to support travelers delayed by extreme weather.
- World politics
World politics can affect business travel when there is civil unrest, war, protests and elections. If you have the responsibility of protecting your travelers, you must be aware of these potential risks and be able to assess whether there is a likelihood of this impacting their trips.
- Personal risks
Traveling can put you more at risk for theft, robbery and other unpredictable threats, especially when traveling to underdeveloped countries. As the person in charge of travel for your company, or if you’re booking your own trip, ensure that you sign up for embassy alerts and study the possible threats when traveling to potentially risky destinations.
- Cyber threats
Cyber threats can come in the form of hackers trying to access private information for personal gain. When traveling you must provide a lot of sensitive personal data, which should it be compromised can be potentially harmful. As a company to protect your employees, it’s important to provide proper training about how to recognize cyber threats and keep employees digitally aware to minimize the impact.
- Health risks
As business travel resumes post-Covid, we are faced again with the possibility of contracting other viruses and diseases while traveling. Make sure to keep your travelers safe by educating them on the potential health risks.
And to keep your travelers safe while traveling, we’ve made a Step-by-Step Guide to Seamless Business Travel Management Post-Pandemic.
To be sure, the business trip is worth it and cannot be replaced with a zoom meeting, check out our post:
Steps to ensure corporate travel safety
1. Effective planning and information
To plan effectively you need to be sure to be able to provide up-to-date information about the destination, the associated travel risks and in the case of Covid-19, give your travelers all the necessary information about vaccination, entry requirements and more. You may also want to inform travelers about potential risks such as:
- Social, political, economic or cultural conditions that are worth keeping in mind
- Safety and reliability of transportation (i.e. Is it safe to take the local bus or is it better to take a taxi?)
- Levels and severity of crime
- Possibility of natural disasters such as hurricanes, storms, earthquakes, tsunami, etc.
Other important risks due to Covid-19 to keep in mind are:
- Do you need a vaccine?
- Do you need a negative test to travel?
- Are there any restrictions?
- Any Covid-19 specific documents you need to enter the country?
- Are cases on the rise?
- Is there a new variant?
- How many new cases per day in the destination?
Encourage your travelers to update their travel profiles and emergency contacts. Your employees must help you help them so that if worst comes to worst you know who to contact and how to contact them. Consult the Covid-19 Information Hub for more information.
By using a Travel Management Company to help make business travel bookings, you can be sure to live up to your duty of care, corporate travel policy, automatically rejecting requests to risky destinations and setting up certain parameters in your travel policy. This ensures that travel requirements are met and are within policy before tickets are issued. Find out how to automate your travel policy.
When you use a Business Travel Management Platform like GetGoing, you have built-in features like GoSafe, which uses Artificial Intelligence to favor direct routes. Direct routes, especially in the case of the pandemic, reduce exposure and limit the potential for trip interruption. You also have access to a traveler tracking system, so at any given time you can see where your travelers are, helping you even more to fulfill your duty of care. Learn more about traveler safety.
Make sure your company is ready to support your travelers in case of need. This means helping them with making bookings and better understanding your company’s travel policy, as well as providing assistance once they are on the road. Normally it is more about supporting travelers who get Covid, need emergency medical assistance, get in a car accident or experience trip interruption and travel delays.
4. Traveling to destination
Once travelers are on the road, make sure they keep you posted that they made it safely to their destination and if there were any itinerary changes. Ensure that before travelers depart, they know how much they will get reimbursed for meals and travel expenses, and that they have an emergency contact number should they need it. A smoothly running trip means that travelers keep in touch with the people who are responsible in the company for travel whether that be HR or the Office Manager.
5. Traveling home
Once your travelers are back home, it’s important to assess their Covid risks. If they were potentially in contact with Covid-19, educate them to be responsible and self-quarantine or do a Covid test before returning to the office to protect their colleagues. Learn from each other’s travel experiences. Were there long waits at airports or new safety procedures? Asking the right questions allows everyone in your office to better prepare for their business trips.
6. Feedback and review
In an ever-changing travel environment, it’s important to constantly review and update your travel policies. Covid-19 requirements and recommendations are changing rapidly, and a big part of fulfilling your business travel duty of care is keeping up-to-date with the latest information so that you can protect your employees and make sure they’re safe.
This is why we recommend reviewing your travel risk management program post-Covid because the safest way to travel post-pandemic can change quickly. Check in with travelers, especially those who travel often for suggestions and feedback and see how you are doing and where there is room for improvement.
Fulfilling your duty of care and ensuring corporate travel safety
Of course by following these steps, there are no guarantees that you won’t run into some glitches along the way as business travel slowly picks up, but by following these tips, you can do your best to keep your travelers safe, fulfill your business travel duty of care for and make getting back to travel all the easier.