Traveling for work is... Bad?
Well, this is less than ideal news for those who travel for work, especially for those who travel as work. Research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine says that the more time you spend on the road, the more at risk you are for alcohol abuse (wait, drinking and driving??), depression, obesity (yeah, that one makes sense) and other health issues. These issues lead to increased absenteeism and decreased productivity. Let's break down the causes:
Fast food is everywhere, and even though they offer "healthy" food like Wendy's Southwest Salad (yes please!), those salads are for more expensive (roughly twice!) than say, their 4 for $4 - a burger, fries, chicken nuggets, and a drink. The salad doesn't even come with a drink, so if you want one, you're spending extra.
Those who travel are more likely to sacrifice sleep, which has long been shown to have detrimental effects such as cardiovascular disease. Skipping sleep + driving is a terrible idea. The son of a friend of ours learned this the hard way. He just got into an accident because he thought he could make it home and fell asleep at the wheel. He's been in the hospital for a week, but is expected to fully recover.
Those who lose sleep also rely more on caffeine, which we already posted about here. TLDR; caffeine is really bad for you. Avoid it when possible (but stay awake when driving!)
Regular exercise is good for you, but those who travel for work often find themselves sitting for long periods of time. It would be awkward to try to work out while you're driving or in a crowded airplane. While we like to do some stretches and moves when we pump gas, not everyone is comfortable with strangers staring and wondering what we've had to drink today. (Greg = coffee, Dan = Diet Coke. Hypocritical? Maybe. We never said we were perfect, only that we'd try to help you grow your business).
Considering the effects traveling for work can have on an employee, employers would be wise to allow them some time to recover before returning to work. A good night's sleep is not enough to undo what has been done, especially if the trip was an extended one. The research we mentioned shows that the longer an employee is away, the more health and mental issues they have. Those who traveled at least half of the month were even more likely to experience negative effects, and were more likely to have more of them.
The decreased attendance and increased health issues cause rifts between employer and employee as well as with fellow coworkers. It costs companies money, between lost time and lowered productivity. Imagine traveling Friday to Sunday and having to be at the office first thing in the morning on Monday. How productive would you be? Add in variables such as changing time zones, lousy airplane food, and late night dinners with clients and you have a recipe for a mess.
While it would be easy to place the blame on an employee -- after all, they could pay more for that salad, take breaks in driving to work out, make sure to stay well rested -- a successful company is one that helps each other. When your employee has a trip, let them know how it could affect their health, and research solutions and preventative measures. It could be something as simple as ensuring your hotel has a fitness center or allowing a little extra in the budget for healthier options. A small expense now will save money later, and showing interest in an employee's health will increase their loyalty toward the company.