If you’re part of a couple with one or more dependents – be they human, fur baby or plant- you’ll recognize the irritation that can arise when your partner returns from a work trip after you’ve been at home juggling a job, care duties and planning a dinner you committed to host and now regret.
When our son was four months-old my husband waltzed in from a business trip and made a throwaway comment about the dinner party email I had failed to respond to. The rumblings of irrational fury were frankly concerning.
That’s the thing about business travel. While one partner is at home drinking thrice-microwaved coffee and bathing the baby in-between filing invoices, the traveling partner sips flat whites with a client who praises their work. While one Googles where to take the client for dinner, the other Googles whether or not it is possible to die from three consecutive nights of not sleeping.
In a matter of decades, the portrait of the modern family has changed dramatically. According to the Pew research center that studies social trends, children in American households are more likely than not to grow up in a household in which their parents work, and in nearly half of all two-parent families, both parents work full-time. It’s a trend that’s growing all over the world.
We are juggling more than ever, and frequent travel –with its propensity to throw delicate routines into disarray - is ripe for resentment if not handled with care.
CWT research reveals that 22% of frequent business travelers believe their business travel commitments erode the quality of their relationships and home life. Whilst 21% worry their families think they prefer traveling for work more than their day-to-day home-life responsibilities. Here are three ways to keep things sweet where it matters most.
- In Good Company - Does your travel policy put your family first?
Ask your company if they work with a TMC that helps them offer an expanded set of options without necessarily adding cost. For example, some offer same-day trips for working or single parents.
“Companies need to be aware of the concerns that business travelers face and help to address them head-on,” says Catherine Maguire-Vielle, CWT’s EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer. “Relationships are a fundamental part of a person’s wellbeing and companies have the obligation to ensure their employees’ travels are not jeopardizing them at home or in the office.”
- Stake in the future - Your partner is your most important stakeholder
At work, you wouldn’t schedule a call and then cancel it without informing your colleague. You wouldn’t think to embark on a trip without your team knowing how it will benefit them. Yet, we do that to our significant other more readily.
Communication is critical for any relationship, but it doubles in importance when that relationship must stand the test of frequent travel.
If you say "I'll call you tonight around 6:30pm" keep the promise or send a text to reschedule. Failing to stick to commitments fuels underlying tension. Even set reminders on your phone or calendar.
Equally, let your partner know how your travel benefits your home life. Will it land you a deal that adds to the family finances? Will you learn a new skill that makes you more content and thus a better partner at home?
- Tech it to the next level – Minimize disruptions to your trip
Subscribe to apps or services that provide up-to-the-minute information about changes to your journey. Some third-party tech providers also provide access to airport lounges once a significant delay is announced, allowing you to finish work on the road and avoid eating into precious family time.