The bleisure, or the possibility of reconciling work and relaxation on a business trip, is a phenomenon in continuous growth, highly appreciated by employees. Among the main reasons that favor its diffusion is the increase in working time: the hours dedicated to business commitments, in fact, increase more and more, to the point that nowadays it is often difficult to clearly separate the work from leisure. Sometimes it is not easy for employees to take holidays, so they take advantage of the business trip to take some time to relax, visit a city or attend an exhibition. In this article, we will analyze the phenomenon of bleisure, trying to understand what it is and why it can be beneficial both for the worker and for the company.
What does bleisure mean? The term bleisure is a neologism formed by the union of the words business and leisure and therefore identifies the combination of work and leisure time. In particular, it indicates the practice of indulging in moments of relaxation during the business trip.
Apparently, combining business and leisure might seem a contradiction, yet many companies today foresee this practice, finding advantages both for the collaborator and for the productivity of the same company. The bleisure, therefore, is being consolidated as a new trend in the corporate travel sector and identifies a new type of worker, the worksumer, a professional figure that seeks flexibility, mobility and balance between the working and private dimension that penetrate more and more.
Let's explore this phenomenon in the next paragraphs:
- The origins of bleisure
- Bleisure or bizcation?
- The benefits for the employee and for the company
- The importance of travel policies
The origins of bleisure
The spread of bleisure is a fairly recent practice that has started to expand since 2011, continuing to grow steadily. According to a study conducted by US travel magazine Weekly travel journeys represented 11% of the total, up to 17% in 2016.
Furthermore, a research carried out by Carlson Wagonlit Travel shows that between 2011 and 2015, 29 million flights were made for work reasons; in 2015, in particular, out of 7 million routes with almost 2 million passengers, 20% (ie 1 passenger out of 5) decided to devote time to moments of pleasure and relaxation.
Many take advantage of the weekend to combine a short vacation with a business trip, at the start or end of the trip. Today this trend does not seem to diminish and one wonders what actually characterizes a travel bleisure. Let's see it below.
Bleisure or bizcation?
There are two terms most used when it comes to combining relaxation with a business trip: bleisure and bizcation. They are often used interchangeably, but in reality they have two slightly different meanings.
As mentioned above, bleisure means combining a business trip and a pleasure trip.
Many business travelers, for example, decide to add a couple of days to meet with their partner or family, or they prefer to spend a few hours each day doing sports, going to the spa, visiting a museum and taking a walk, without necessarily prolonging the duration of the trip.
Bizcation, on the other hand, is an expression that derives from the union of business and vacation and means combining a business trip with a real multi-day vacation. It is a widespread practice, especially when we talk about traveling to faraway places, perhaps to the other side of the world where we would not go at other times of the year or our life.
The benefits of bleisure for the employee and the company
Encouraging and encouraging employees to add a few days of relaxation at the beginning or end of the business trip will have positive effects not only for the worker himself, but also for the company. We have identified 6 advantages, here is what they are.
1. The journey is more productive
Traveling for work requires a lot of energy and can be tiring, especially for frequent flyers and for those who have to deal with very long journeys, to which is added the problem of jet lag. By giving travelers the chance to combine work and relaxation, they will have more time to rest and will be able to dedicate themselves completely to their work once they return to the office. The bleisure thus improves the quality of work, making it more productive and optimizing profits.
2. The relationship with customers improves
Generally, business trips are organized with the aim of meeting clients and prospects living abroad. Encouraging the traveler to spend more time in the destination means giving him the opportunity to learn about and explore the habits, culture and local traditions and maybe even the language. This is very positive as it creates favorable conditions for improving and deepening customer relationships.
3. Talents are attracted to this possibility
Formalizing company policies related to bleisure will make the company more appealing and "attractive" to workers, with a greater chance of encouraging the best talent to join the team.
4. Turnover decreases
Allowing and inviting the collaborator to add a few days for himself to the business trip will make him feel appreciated, listened to and motivated; consequently, it will tend to be more faithful to the company and to feel emotionally and morally bound, more involved, avoiding and preventing unexpected resignations.
5. Days out of the office are reduced
It may seem strange, but allowing employees to take advantage of the trip to take a few days off will reduce the time spent out of the office the rest of the year. In fact, it seems that workers, instead of being absent for a week or two as usually happens, tend to reduce their holidays, preferring to take a couple of days to coincide with the business trip.
6. Optimization of travel expenses
It is possible that the company also gains an economic advantage from the fact that the worker decides to extend the duration of the trip. In fact, if the days of arrival and departure do not coincide with those of greater affluence, the company can save considerably on costs.
Before implementing a bleisure program, make sure you have a clear corporate policy. The employee must know well what are the terms and conditions when he decides, for example, to be joined by the family or to extend the duration of the trip. Having well-structured guidelines at hand will allow the worker to properly exploit this possibility and the company to optimize the cost of travel and reduce retention.
The importance of travel policies
The more traditionalist companies could find the concept of bleisure difficult to accept, interpreting it as a waste of time, since in those days the employee could and should work.
Today, however, given that more and more entrepreneurs give greater value to productivity and results, compared to the actual hours worked, the first concern of companies should be to ensure that they have formalized corporate policies and that these are clear to travelers. Policies must resolve any doubts regarding responsibilities, rights and duties of the company and worker, to avoid problems and unforeseen circumstances. For example, if the employee had an accident during the "extra days", the entrepreneur or company could have problems, since the primary reason for the trip is related to the business. The only way to avoid these unpleasant incidents, however unpredictable and unlikely, is to put everything in writing. Both managers and employees need to know their responsibilities and rights to protect themselves and their colleagues.
These are some suggestions regarding the aspects to consider when entering into a travel policy related to the travel bleisure:
- Should a limit be set on the number of days that can be added to the business trip, with the aim of minimizing risks?
- Is there a distinction between travel expenses and personal expenses during business trips?
- If the family joins the worker, does the company cover the extra costs for the hotel?
- Do additional policies need to be stipulated for high-risk destinations?
- If, by extending the journey, the flight is more expensive, is it up to the worker to cover the extra?
Finally, the corporate policies must also include the rules concerning expense reimbursements or any agreements or preferences regarding the choice of hotels or digital tools to be used for reservations and payments.
Surely bleisure is not an approach that can work for every type of company. If it is not usual to organize trips overseas, or that however involve a stay of several days, evaluating policies of bleisure would be more expensive than useful. However, for companies where business trips are very frequent and demanding, it might be really advantageous to consider this approach, for all the reasons we have explained in this article.
Furthermore, it should be remembered that airlines also provide benefits for frequent flyers that are worth considering: by joining free incentive programs such as PartnerPlusBenefit, the same company will have the opportunity to accumulate points for each trip and to request rewards, upgrades, access to airport lounges and much more.