The novel coronavirus pandemic is still raging in many parts of the world, if not Australia itself, and that can be highly disruptive to some aspects of your business. That's especially true when it comes to companies asking employees to travel for business. Whether it's just to another city in your state or to a far-flung location halfway around the world, managers will soon have to account for a host of factors that just didn't exist for business travel as recently as last year.
In recent months, organisations across Australia have been slowly returning to something resembling "business as usual," even if they did have to make critical changes to some of their operations and allow more flexibility for remote work. But what about business travel? Corporate Travel Community notes that there are some places where it could be reasonably low-risk as long as basic safety measures are applied. However, any future business travel arrangements and effort should be taken with all due caution, because there is plenty at stake.
"Business travel arrangements and effort should be taken with all due caution."
Why safety is critical
Most of the world has done a fairly good job of fighting back the risks that lead to widespread COVID-19 infection, but as we have seen time and again, it only takes one slip of judgment to undo months of hard work. Even brief contact with someone who has the coronavirus could lead to transmission that ends up impacting an entire office before management knows it.
As such, any efforts need to take into account whether the trip is absolutely necessary, the unique risks that might present themselves in a given destination (based on the latest information) and more. For instance, managing business travel used to be as simple as booking flights and hotel accommodations, but now there's a lot more to think about.
What to consider
When making any bookings for business travel, managers first have to consider whether there are any restrictions in place. Currently, the Australian government notes that all non-essential domestic travel must be avoided, and even within any given state, there is unique travel advice. Furthermore, the nation's borders remain closed, and anyone returning from overseas will be required to quarantine for two weeks before returning to normal life.
Smart Traveller also notes that Australians already overseas should make plans to remain where they are until such time as the borders open once again. Effectively, international travel is a no-go for Australian organisations, and even most interstate business travel may be prohibited. Here, too, Safe Work Australia recommends that travel managers know the unique rules and restrictions for these places.
Getting it right
Even if organisations are largely accepting the strictures they are under — and will likely continue to face through the end of 2020, at the very least — there must be a plan in place for how they will return to business travel once they are allowed to do so. That's true not only from a logistical standpoint, but also to protect the business, individual employees and so on. The following steps provide an outline for what an effective plan for doing so should look like:
1) Rethink the process from the ground up
Businesses have likely worked with the same rough corporate travel management infrastructure for years, but the fact is that these probably won't cut it in a post-COVID world. As such, it may be necessary to get the team together and figure out how to change policies to protect both workers and the organisation at large in the new environment.
2) Update policies for safety
Companies often have rules and suggestions for how employees should behave when representing the firm in another city, at home or abroad. Those should be reviewed and altered to account for the risk present at any given destination, updated at the time of the trip.
3) Inform employees
Many workers may be quite accustomed to a life on the road as part of their normal tasks. Companies will have to do more to put the latest information into writing and distribute it to all who might be affected by the new policies. Furthermore, compiling a travel checklist for even the most seasoned employees to review can help ensure compliance and safety.
4) Lay out a new budget
Managers may find their travel budgets — even for the same old destination cities — are quite a bit different after COVID-19 has died down from where they were before the pandemic hit. It may be necessary to retool the budget to account for the new environment.
Find a partner to help
When you are trying to develop a new business travel plan, it helps to have a partner that is fully prepared to help you keep your employees safe, enabling smooth and efficient processes. That's where cievents comes in. Our corporate group travel service provides options from group airfare options to 24-hour emergency assistance and budget management help. These kinds of solutions can be invaluable in a highly uncertain time, so get in touch with us today to learn more.
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