Mention “work-life balance” to a business traveler, and they’ll likely respond with something between a groan and an eye roll. There’s a reason those who frequently travel for work either feel they’re constantly coming up short or have totally abandoned trying to achieve work-life balance: It doesn’t really exist.
It’s time to toss the idea of work-life balance, which assumes work and life are separate entities that compete for a person’s limited time. Instead, business travelers should embrace the concept of work-life blend. Work-life blend assumes people are entitled to live their life while working and work while living their life — a much more honest view of the modern business world.
Here are a few ways research supports this more integrated approach to work life and personal life, and how business travelers can incorporate it into their routines.
Stay connected to work, friends, and family
Conventional wisdom has many professionals chasing work-life balance by setting firm boundaries between who they are in the office and their role at home. But for business travelers, that advice requires them to put their family and social lives on pause far too often.
Research published in the journal Human Relations offers a different take on managing work and family roles: they should be integrated. That is, you shouldn’t think of yourself as CFO from nine to five and a parent on evenings and weekends, but as a CFO and a parent all the time. That’s because the transition between roles creates stress that degrades job performance.
During business travel, this might mean setting up video calls with your kids every morning to have breakfast together, virtually. Or bringing your spouse or friends along on business trips when possible. With Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts’ patented WorkLife Room concept, 24/7 connectivity and easy-access charging stations, staying connected is easy. You can stay in touch and on target around the clock while your work and life keep blending effortlessly.
Make healthy food and drink choices
It’s no secret that staying healthy, nourished, and hydrated fuels your mind and body for optimal productivity and performance. But when you put up boundaries between work travel and “real life,” that common knowledge tends to go out the window. Travel presents numerous opportunities to treat yourself, and when your business trips happen frequently, that amounts to a lifetime of poor choices.
Columbia University studies published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found correlations between extensive business travel and chronic disease. Dr. Andrew Rundle, head of the Columbia team, suggests that stress, poor sleep, and other factors play roles in travel-related health risks, but staying accountable to healthy habits and skipping travel treats can mitigate these risks and enhance work effectiveness during travel.
How? Eat and drink while traveling like you eat and drink at home. Bring healthy snacks with you, and stick to your normal eating schedule as closely as possible. During restaurant meals, pick menu items that align with the same healthy choices you’d make in your own kitchen.
Crowne Plaza makes that easy with fresh, convenient prepared food options, available when and where you need them. With the touch of a tablet, travelers can have healthy food items delivered to any adaptive Plaza Workspace or room.
Keep active and exercising
Few parts of travelers’ daily schedules get tossed out the window as frequently as exercise. But jet lag and travel fatigue make physical activity even more important to prioritize while on the road.
Part of the solution to the exercise challenge is adopting a work-life blend attitude during your traveling workdays. It’s easy to feel locked into meeting formats and seating options during business travel, but you can take ownership over these choices, just as you would in your own office. “Stand during conference sessions rather than sit, do walking meetings with colleagues,” says Rundle. He also suggests using workout apps to bring your exercise schedule and accountability with you wherever you go.
Getting restful, rejuvenating sleep
Unsurprisingly, extensive travelers in the Columbia studies often reported trouble sleeping, which undermined physical and mental well-being. From stress to time zone changes, sleep disruption can feel like an intractable issue with frequent travel.
But there are ways to get better sleep during business travel. Manage the “always-on” culture of business travel with a healthy, work-life blend approach. If you wouldn’t stay out at a bar with colleagues until the wee hours on a Tuesday at home, don’t do it on the road. Enjoy a cocktail hour, but don’t feel guilty about bowing out to stick to your set bedtime. If a brainstorming session runs late, stick with it, but get everyone in sync regarding a late start time the next day.
Rundle suggests mindfulness apps may help reduce stress and maintain healthy sleep habits during business travel. Calming environments promote rejuvenating sleep, minimize sleep disruptions and maximize restorative sleep as well. Crowne Plaza Sleep Advantage amenities, from aromatherapy kits to comfortable linens, help soothe the mind and body into rest. With quiet zones that eliminate all but guest-requested staff activity, you sleep undisturbed and awaken revitalized and refreshed.
The way modern business works, there are no boundaries between work and life. But by adopting the work-life blend mindset and staying at hotels like Crowne Plaza, you can be productive, socialize and rest — on your own terms.