Protecting employees from inevitable business travel risk

Posted on Aug 20, 2015

Travel may look like an unavoidable requirement for many businesses, and is often much more than that. Sending employees out on the road or through the air to meet with clients, partners, suppliers and other organizations can make operations more effective and generally improve success. Travel for professional development, like conferences and other educational opportunities, is another dimension of how business travel ultimately improves the operations of a company.

However, travel needs supervision just like any other function of an organization. Duty of care is a major responsibility for companies that send staff members out into the world from the relatively safer space of the main office. It becomes more important as more employees travel further away from company headquarters and for longer periods of time. So what can organizations do to protect staff? What areas deserve the most attention? And how should such efforts be prioritized?

"Approximately 452 million business person-trips occurred in 2014."

Key aspects of strong duty of care efforts
According to research and marketing group The U.S. Travel Association, approximately 452 million person-trips - defined as an overnight stay away from home or travel to a place more than 50 miles from home - occurred in 2014. This high volume of business travel means only so many specialized, hard-and-fast rules make sense for companies in practice. The focus of duty of care efforts should center on information sharing, intelligence research and development, communication, and general planning ahead for employee travel. Highlighting these areas can improve efforts to keep employees safe while traveling.

Information sharing and communication
Communication between employees in the field and those in the main offices, as well as the single-direction sharing of information when time is of the essence, are simply must-have attributes for modern business travel. This includes efforts to prepare staff members before they leave on a trip, as well as during the visit and even on the return ride or flight home. Technology is a major enabler of such efforts and encourages efficient, effective dissemination of data old and new. Major benefits include real-time alerts and reporting, GPS tracking and associated tools like geo fencing and position-based alerts. Simple discussions are easier and more effective when companies use a singular, connected digital platform developed especially for duty of care efforts.

Research and planning ahead of a trip
Staying connected during a business trip is crucial, but it isn't where the efforts to stay informed of incidents - be they major snowstorms or civil unrest - should begin. Intelligence reporting, forming of detailed travel plans and developing an understanding of the situation in an area is important prior to arrival. These planning and research sessions may be relatively quick or protracted and involved, depending on the destination. It's important to have the right intelligence gathering tools and effective processes in place to share such information.

Tying everything together
Without the right technology, it's difficult for companies to improve business travel safety and remain in touch with staff because of the great physical distances between them. With NC4 ActivPoint, part of NC4 Risk Center, staff members can turn their smartphones into mobile tools that facilitate the transmission of important travel information. True two-way data sharing and status updates are possible, allowing for a greater sense of security whether the employees in the field or staff at the main office are concerned about the travel area. Protecting staff members as they travel for business is a critical responsibility, as is keeping everyone informed so the focus is on business - instead of on travel or security issues.

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