Managing Business Travel Risks in the Post-pandemic Months

Before sending employees on any trips, business managers have to make the health of employees a top priority and take measures to ensure their safety.

Although most governments are still advising against international travel, many popular destinations across the globe have started easing their COVID-19 lockdown measures and are moving toward welcoming visitors back. This is great news for business owners and managers who had planned to send employees on key international business trips over the last three months but have been forced to cancel them as a result of travel restrictions. But, before sending employees on any trips, business managers have to make the health of employees a top priority and take measures to ensure they stay safe regardless of where they're going.

Assessing the Risk

Before organizing any trip, business managers need to conduct a thorough risk assessment to determine whether the benefits outweigh the risks. One key factor to consider is the destination; even though a country may have lifted travel restrictions, it doesn't mean that it's perfectly safe to travel there. Managers must ensure that the country, city and even neighborhood they're sending employees to is safe. To do this, they can check the CDC’s travel recommendations for different countries as well as reports from official health departments in the destination country.

Another key factor to consider is the employee’s unique characteristics. Managers must consider their employee’s age and medical history before deciding whether or not to send them on the trip. Older employees or those with underlying medical conditions like diabetes, asthma and cancer face a higher risk of developing serious illness and therefore should not be taking international trips right now regardless of the destination. Employees who are immunocompromised should be aware of the high risk of travel as well.

Obtaining Adequate Travel Insurance

Until a coronavirus vaccine is developed, there’s always a chance that employees could get sick while on the trip even after taking strong measures to keep them safe. As such, travel insurance is no longer optional; business managers must buy adequate travel insurance for their employees to ensure that they get the best medical care possible should they get sick while on the business trip. On top of that, travel insurance will ensure that the business doesn’t lose money in the form of deposits or nonrefundable tickets if they’re forced to cancel or postpone the trip.

Getting There Safely

The journey is probably the riskiest part of taking an international trip right now, especially when air travel is involved. First of all, if the destination is within driving distance — such as Mexico or Canada — business managers can encourage their traveling employees to drive there as opposed to taking a flight. This will prevent them from coming into contact with other people who could be sick.

But, if air travel is the only option, managers can do various things to safeguard their employees’ health, starting with choosing an airline that has taken adequate measures to prevent the spread of the virus in their planes such as improving their cleaning practices, reducing the seating capacity, preventing air recirculation and ensuring their staff wears personal protective equipment. Business managers can also ensure that traveling employees to bring their own safety supplies including a mask, hand sanitizer and gloves. Over the past few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the international travel industry to its knees, but now life must go on. Although it’s still not 100 percent safe, business managers can plan trips to achieve their international objectives without risking their employees’ health.

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