Over the last few years, with the pandemic and Ukraine crisis, we have seen an increase in the importance for information, location, and communication tools under the umbrella of a comprehensive Travel Risk Management Programme. This turbulent time has made organisations realise the value in having a robust programme which is scalable to their needs and ensures the health, safety and security of their personnel.
What is Travel Risk Management TRM?
Travel risk management refers to the approach which protects and provides vital support and assistance for an organisation and their people against travel risks and threats. These may include but are not limited to civil unrest, terrorist attacks and natural disasters to everyday incidents that can happen wherever you are in the world. Travel risk management goes above and beyond traditional travel insurance and aims to fulfil a company’s duty of care obligations and enhance business continuity and resilience.
The changing landscape of Travel Risk Management
When we talk about Travel Risk, we are not only referring to business travellers but our global teams and operations. The pandemic, especially, has changed the way we all work with remote working becoming the norm for more of the workforce. Therefore, our policies and procedures need to change to reflect this shift.
Recent events have also meant organisations are prioritising travel risk management and focusing on the importance of duty of care responsibilities and employee well-being, particularly mental health. Other considerations which have raised in their significance of late are rising costs, and an emphasis on sustainability.
Last year a new ISO 31030:2021 was published ‘Travel risk management — Guidance for organisations’. This document gives guidance to organisations on how to manage the risk(s), to the organisation and its travellers, as a result of undertaking travel. It provides a structured approach to the development, implementation, evaluation and review of policy, programme development, threat and hazard identification, opportunities and strengths, risk assessment, prevention and mitigation strategies.
Whether you’re an employee, student or volunteer an organisation has a commitment to look after you no matter where in the world you are. Let’s look at the evolving factors impacting an organisation’s travel risk management strategy in more detail.
- New ways of working
The pandemic caused us to change how we live our lives and do business; one consequence was business travel reduced considerably. The more optimistic of predictions state that we’re at least a couple of years away from the pre pandemic level of corporate travel. Technology has opened new ways for individuals to connect, with a move towards virtual meetings and events. There has been rise of hybrid working, according to figures from the UK Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) between 19 and 30 January 2022, 36% of working adults reported having worked from home at least once in the last seven days. However, with restrictions being lifted in many countries, testing requirements relaxing, the enthusiasm for face-to-face events to return and businesses valuing physical client meetings and interactions the future of business travel is looking brighter. Please note this optimism maybe determined by where in the world you are located (for example Europe) as the level of recovery is somewhat varied.
Your travel risk management programme must include everything you need to safely manage your people while they work remotely. The same inform, locate and communicate tools can be used to manage your global teams who are not office based.
- Rising costs
Escalating energy costs are hitting companies just as they are trying to recover from Covid-19. It’s no secret that corporate travel is expensive, therefore businesses are reassessing the need for travel (essential travel vs. non-essential) and looking closely at the ROI for trips.
Travel managers are facing a challenging time with rising costs and budget restraints. Flexibility still remains key i.e. whether tickets/accommodation can be cancelled or changed. Travel Risk Management processes can help assess the requirement for travel and what risk mitigation is appropriate.
- Employee wellbeing and mental health
It has been acknowledged for some time now that business travel does effect an employee’s wellbeing and essentially their mental health. For some it can increase stress and anxiety levels. Being in unfamiliar environments and situations as well as away from family and friends, suffering from tiredness relating to long journeys and time differences, and unhealthy routines and eating habits are just a few of the negative effects travelling can have on an employee’s mental health and wellbeing. Lack of support can cause loneliness and isolation. Over the last decade mental health has become the centre of many conversations and campaigns, positivity shining a light on this important issue. For example, this week (9-15 May 2022) is Mental Health Awareness Week, the Mental Health Foundation are raising awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental health and the practical steps we can take to address it. Anyone of us can feel lonely anytime, anywhere.
A comprehensive Travel Risk Management solution can help you support your traveller’s and remote workforce. The culture of an organisation is significant here as well, it’s key that employees feel like they can reach out, be open and discuss concerns as part of a 2-way communication. For more information about how a travel risk programme can help your organisation read our previous article.
Sustainability has become a priority for organisations and is climbing up the boardroom agenda. It’s important when managing travel to contribute to the organisations sustainability objectives while maintaining the necessary travel to support business development and continuity. This can be achieved by reviewing your travel policy and challenging the way you’ve always done things. There are several changes you can make to ensure your people can still travel while being sensitive to global climate change. These may include:
- Using a Travel Management Company: TMCs will be able to help track your CO2 emissions and you can use this information to start a carbon offset programme or other offsetting initiatives
- Method of transport: For example, when booking flights go direct, when hiring ground transport look for greener alternatives i.e. electronic or hybrid vehicles, investigate public transport options
- Accommodation: not only is the location of the hotel important i.e. is it within walking distance to and from offices or where the business activities are taking place but also there are more ‘green’ hotels implementing sustainability policies.
Obviously, there is more you can do to support your organisation’s sustainability targets but these need to be balanced by the requirement to keep your personnel safe as a priority when travelling. That’s where a travel risk management company comes in. They will be able to provide you with intelligence, link up to TMCs and set up risk assessments so you can make informed decisions for appropriate arrangements. In areas of elevated risk these suggestions will not be relevant as safety will preside sustainability.
More and more organisations are taking a holistic approach to travel risk management and reaping the benefits. Here’s our top 5:
- Increased employee wellbeing, confidence and productivity
- Improved business continuity and organisational resilience
- More informed decision making
- Enabling travel
- Meeting duty of care commitments and reduced business liability
Our SPHERE Travel Risk Management services help you PREPARE, SAFEGUARD and RESPOND. We will work with you to review your travel risk policies, identify gaps, promote best practice and support your duty of care obligations.
We realise that no two organisations are the same and so from initial guidance to a fully outsourced travel risk management solution, SPHERE’s range of services can be configured to meet your requirements and support your existing capabilities and budget.
For a free demonstration and 30-day free trial please contact firstname.lastname@example.org