PHOTO: There is a dark side to business travel, a new study shows. (Photo via Flickr/Matthew Hurst)
George Clooney LOVED to fly in the film “Up In The Air.” His character, Ryan Bingham, flew some 350,000+ annual miles for business, with a goal to reach 10 million miles as a frequent flier on American Airlines.
Alas, at the end of the film, the character has an epiphany after losing a woman he falls in love with, coupled with the reality of his sister’s wedding, (in which she and her new husband can’t take a honeymoon and travel because of financial issues).
He comprehends his life of travel versus missed opportunities with family and loved ones and what it means to his quality of life.
Now a new study released by the University of Surrey and Lund University in England found there’s no gray area in business travel: Individuals who frequently fly on business either flourish or flounder.
The study is called, “The dark side of business travel: A media comments analysis,” and it analyzed first-hand responses on the impact that frequent business travel can have on individuals, including health, social and family aspects.
"As more and more people are required to travel frequently for work, the impacts of travel on the workforce is an issue of rising importance on the public agenda,” said co-author Dr. Scott Cohen, from the University of Surrey, in a statement.
Cohen and his team identified that individuals tend to either 'flourish' or 'flounder' in careers that include frequent business travel: The 'flourishing hypermobile' traveler views frequent business travel as an integral part of their happiness and identity.
The 'floundering hypermobile' individual experiences frequent business travel as a source of unhappiness that endangers their health and psycho-social wellbeing.
READ MORE: How To Make Business Travel A Breeze
Findings in the report reveal that a large proportion of business travelers want to reduce the amount of time they spend on business travel. However, the research shows that these individuals do not take the necessary steps to reduce travel, as they believe it's not something they have the ability to control.
The responsibility falls to the company to reduce the amount of travel, which could lead to legal action Cohen said:
"In the next 10-15 years, it is very possible that we will see lawsuits being brought against companies who don't take actions to help reduce their employee's business travel. As this paper concludes, business travel reductions for individuals are unlikely to take place unless they are driven top-down by a Human Resources department with a clearly defined wellbeing strategy for corporate travel."
Only a successful lawsuit will bring about change, Cohen added, resulting in a rush to put policies and safeguards in place against excessive business travel and the negative impacts it can create.