As many businesses become increasingly global, employers are faced with the challenge of figuring out how to effectively manage employees who travel for work.
If you have a team of road warriors who are doing work and meeting with clients around the country or internationally, there are many difficulties involved in keeping them connected. Not only do these traveling workers need to keep up with their job while at a distance, they also have to manage the stresses of being on the road such as catching flights and trains, tracking expenses and hours and dealing with travel issues.
Here are some important tips to keep in mind when it comes to managing employees who travel for work.
Communication is important when your employees are spread out far and wide. Try to arrange for a telephone call or video chat on a regular basis to check in with their progress. For example, you could arrange to speak every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to communicate about a specific project.
These regular calls will make the employee feel connected to the main office and it will also allow you to discuss your concerns or issues before they become a problem.
In order for the traveling employee to stay connected, they need to have access to WiFi wherever they go. In some parts of the world this can be challenging. WiFi hotspots can be few and far between and sometimes they can require memberships or payments.
In addition to always booking hotels with reliable, free Wifi, consider offering a portable personal WiFi hotspot device that the employee can take with them on their travels. This will ensure that they can always stay in touch, no matter how far off the beaten track the job takes them. Also, if the employee doesn’t have a smartphone of their own, you can consider providing them with a device so that they can stay in touch while on the road.
Offer On-the-Road Support
Create a safety net to provide for employees if something happens when they are on the road. They should have travel insurance that will cover them if something happens while they are in a different state or traveling internationally. Travel insurance can also offer compensation if flights are delayed, luggage is lost or other things go wrong while on the road.
Also, make sure that they have roadside assistance or a travel agency that can manage flights, whenever they need it. Before they embark, employees should be briefed on travel safety and any potential risks in their destination. They should also always have a way to get in touch with a manager in the case of an emergency.
Make Time Tracking Easy
When employees travel for work it can make tracking their hours and determining the correct compensation much more difficult.
Although employers aren’t obligated to pay employees for their commute between home and work, the time it takes an employee to travel from Point A to Point B should be paid for if it is part of their job. So, if you have an employee who travels from one job site to another during their work day, they need to be paid for this time.
There are other situations when travel time is usually paid, such as:
- When the employee gets work done while flying in an airplane or traveling on a bus or train.
- When the employee needs to drive somewhere to pick up equipment or supplies, then drive to the job site.
- When the employee does work errands during the day such as driving to the bank, etc.
So, if an employee writes a report or is working on a project, they should be paid for that time regardless of whether the work was done on a bus, train, airplane or at their desk.
California even has a special law regarding employee transportation. If the employees must take the official company transportation (such as a company shuttle to a ski resort, for example) they must be paid for the time they spend waiting for and riding on that transportation.
Paying employees for travel time can be tricky, but a mobile time tracking app can make it so much easier. Your employees will be able to use their phones to track time, even when they are away from the office.
Make Travel Policies As Clear as Possible
It is important to make sure that your work travel policies are as transparent as possible. There can often be a disconnect between employers and employees when it comes to policies, which can make things a little bit confusing. Due to this misunderstanding, employees might accidentally book travel that isn’t authorized or may record their hours incorrectly when traveling for work.
A well written and clearly defined travel policy will limit your legal liabilities, protect employees while they travel and help to avoid questions or confusion.
Make sure that you go through your travel policy and make it as clear and concise as possible. Once you have checked it over carefully, you can send it out to all of your employees and set up a meeting to brief everyone and answer any questions. If anyone cannot attend the meeting, make sure that you meet with them at another time to go over the policy so that they understand. It’s recommended to also include this policy in your Employee Handbook.
It is also important to regularly evaluate and update your travel policy to make sure that it is current. You can also adjust it in order to take advantage of emerging technology and travel innovation, in order to save your company money. Also, pay attention to any feedback your employees give you on the travel policy. If they offer constructive criticism, you can listen and adjust the policy if you believe their concerns are valid.
Here are some additional insights about how to write an effective corporate travel policy.
When Reducing Expenses, Don’t Go Too Far
Most companies are looking for ways to improve their bottom line and reducing travel expenses can be a way to do this effectively. However, when looking for ways to reduce employee travel costs – be careful not to make cuts that will make travel unpleasant or unsafe for employees. Avoid asking employees to share rooms or endure long flights with many stopovers, as this can be stressful and uncomfortable.
There are ways that businesses can reduce their costs when managing employees who travel for work, without sacrificing trip quality. Here are some ideas.
Reimburse Travel Expenses Quickly
Have a quick turnaround time for any travel expenses – it will help accounting to keep up to date and it will also make your employees very happy. You ask your employees to log their work time as quickly as possible, so you should show the same urgency when reimbursing their expenses.
Employees will be more likely to submit their travel expense reports right away when they know that they will be reimbursed quickly. The process will go quickly and smoothly and this will help to improve company morale.
With a clear policy and the right strategy, you can effectively manage a team of employees no matter how far away their work takes them.
Sign up to our Newsletter