As work-life ‘blending’ better meets the dynamic schedule of the modern worker, it emerges that many travel programmes are still ignoring the specific needs of minority travellers

11 February, 2020

Unlike ever before, we now have four very different generations of people in employment. From the baby boomers at the top, delaying their retirement and extending their careers; via Generation Xers and millennials; to the Generation Zers starting out in the workplace – each has its own attitudes to working life, especially when it comes to the adoption of technology.

But for us all, however switched-on we are to the latest technology, finding that perfect line between work-life and home-life remains difficult, even more so if you are among the increasing number of off-site workers or for those that spend much of their time on the road.

National Car Rental’s third annual ‘State of Business Travel’ survey now suggests that the elusive goal of “work-life balance” is giving way to a more fluid “work-life blending” that better fits the dynamic schedule of the modern worker. Its findings show two thirds of us (67%) still try to draw a line between work and personal lives, but a similar number (65%) now believe it’s an unrealistic goal.

Instead, more than half of respondents are now apparently blending work life and personal life, rather than attempting to keep them separate. But, what does this work-life blending look like? Well, during an average week, survey respondents said they answered emails after working hours on 3.97 days, arrived early or stayed late on 3.72 days and took work calls after working hours on 3.00 days.

However, while at work, they also answered personal emails on 2.94 days, took personal calls on 2.85 days and worked on personal projects on 1.63 days. This more flexible approach to working, which has been endorsed by some of industry’s respected leaders and entrepreneurs - is increasingly being endorsed by senior and executive leaders, around two thirds of which (65%) said they prefer staff to blend their personal and professional lives, according to the survey findings.

This blending has already been seen in the corporate travel space with the rise of bleisure travel where business travel is incorporated with personal travel. The survey findings show that this is increasingly becoming more accepted by employers.

The survey found the majority of business travellers (81%) now engage in some form of bleisure travel, including incorporating leisure activities into business travel (61%), extending business travel into leisure trips (41%) and booking a vacation around a business trip (33%).

The survey highlights a clear generational divide with the adoption of bleisure travel with millennials (86%) more likely to partake than Gen Xers (76%) and baby boomers (73%). Similarly, it shows a seniority divide with senior/executive leaders almost twice as likely to extend their business trip into leisure travel (50%) or book a vacation around their business trip (40%) than non-managers (28% and 27%, respectively).

There are clear rewards for the individual and employer, according to the survey. When travelling for business, workers who engage in bleisure travel reported higher overall satisfaction with their quality of life while on the road (91% versus 79%) than non-bleisure travellers. They also report such additional benefits as following a healthy diet (41% versus 32%), exercising (53% versus 41%) and coming back feeling invigorated (54% versus 35%).

Interestingly, there is evidence that bleisure travel is winning more acceptance. Three quarters of bleisure travellers (79%) are more likely to volunteer for a business trip if they know they can extend their stay, up 9% from last year’s survey, and fewer people felt the need to downplay their leisure activities to their boss (19% versus 21%) or their co-workers (22% versus 24%), compared with a year ago.

This work-life blending and bleisure travel uptake are both highly enabled by technology, according to the research. The survey data shows 90% choose brands that offer them technology tools that improve the business travel experience.

Meanwhile, a Business Travel Show poll of European travel buyers has revealed that many travel programmes are currently ignoring the specific needs of minority travellers. Its findings show that just one in ten (13%) travel programmes have been created with special consideration for younger travellers, even though millennials account for half of the UK workforce and almost one third globally.

Similarly, the research shows that approximately three quarters of travel programmes don’t take into account the specific needs of disabled, older, orthodox religious followers and LGTBQIA+ travellers, albeit solo women are slightly better served, with just under a third of programmes (32%) built with their requirements in mind.

Despite these figures, responses highlight that two thirds of travel managers (67%) are responsible for travellers’ duty of care within their job role. They also show that four in five (80%) have a strategy for limiting managing and resolving traveller risk and over half (54%) confirmed their programmes do include policies designed to improve their travellers’ health and wellbeing.