Are you planning to travel with your colleagues or boss but are not aware about the business travel etiquette? Your behavior during a business trip with your colleagues or boss can either make or break your reputation. This Workspirited post will help you by providing a useful list of dos and don’ts for traveling with colleagues.
Trivial Yet Significant!
Whether you have met potential clients, or participated in a conference meeting, you might come across at least one person during the trip to whom you would like to say a small “thank you”. You could send across a “thank you mail” on your way back home!
Traveling with your colleagues or boss can be a tricky situation for you, as your behavior will be scrutinized very closely. Even a minor lax in behavior on your part can hamper your reputation severely. Not only this, but it can also hinder your chances of a promotion and career advancement. It is crucial that you project yourself as a person who values time, expenditure, and decision of the organization to send you on a business trip. This can be done by utilizing the time spent during the business trip effectively and by implementing it for the benefit of the organization.
You must remember that you are answerable to the organization for your behavior during every business trip. Especially so, when your colleagues or boss have accompanied you, as every detail of your conduct will reach the office.
Your conduct must be such that you will be chosen to undertake more and more challenging business trips. Here are a few dos and don’ts of behavioral norms to be followed during your travel with colleagues. This will help you to establish a professional image in front of others.
Dos for Traveling with Colleagues
Be Prepared for the Business Trip
When traveling with your colleague, don’t expect him to make all the preparations for the trip. Carry your own files, folders, presentations, CDs, laptops, etc. It is best that both of you carry a copy of the work-related documents, so that if a set gets misplaced, there is always a backup. Have meetings, and distribute the work amongst yourself and your colleague, so that there are no last-minute problems.
Be clear about the duties and responsibilities of each person. Avoid any kind of miscommunication and ambiguity.
Have a Plan of Action
Discuss your plan of action with your colleague while going on a business trip. Make a ‘to do’ list so you will complete all the objectives of your travel. Include every small detail required for visiting the client, communicating the discussions back to the office, etc., in your plan. If there is any last-minute work which you need to complete before going to the client, finish it right away.
Utilize your time in the flight to go through the presentation once again. With this, your professional approach will come to the fore.
Watch What You Eat
Going to a new place is always exciting, and you may end up sampling some new variety of cuisines. However, do not forget that you are traveling to complete your official duties. Your work should not suffer at any cost. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or any such problem, your colleague will have to run from pillar to post to find medical help for you. Don’t put your colleague through all this trouble; choose light and healthy meals.
Manage Your Logistics and Accommodation
You will have to manage your logistics so that you reach on time and do not miss your flight. Discuss everything with your colleague right from the mode of transport, time of reaching the airport, going to the hotel, venue of the meeting, traveling to the meeting, etc. Ensure that you carry all the documents related to your hotel accommodation and tickets for air travel.
You and your colleague should prepare an itinerary for the travel. It should give all the relevant details including the proper time and accurate contact numbers to avoid any kind of problems.
Communicate Through Various Modes
Check which mode of communication works faster to get in touch with your colleague. Whether it is dropping an email or a private message on a networking website, both should serve the purpose, if mobiles are not working. Check if you have to send him some important documents, and how he will be able to get them. Explore various options, especially, if you both are stationed at different hotels.
Build a Rapport on the Trip
If you are traveling with your boss or colleague, you must utilize this time to begin networking with them. Ask them lighthearted questions about their life, education, interests, goals, etc. Make it sound effortless and casual. This is a good window of opportunity for you to strike a conversation with them and influence them in a positive way. If they are harboring any kind of prejudices about you, your behavior can change their preconceived notions.
Try to mention how much you admire their management skills, work skills, etc., so that there is full cooperation throughout the trip.
Utilize Your Time Productively
It is all the more important if you are traveling with your boss that you come across as a person who utilizes his official time optimally. While on the plane, you can browse through the presentation, work on some other task, or read. However, do not opt for reading glossy entertainment and gossip magazines. Instead, choose something that is managerial or technical in nature.
It will be best if you can carry a self-development book. Reading serious self-development or business-related books will portray you as a thorough professional.
Get the Work Completed
The entire venture of a business trip boils down to getting your work completed. Even if you had a little fun after you completed your assigned work, no one will mind it. However, if your trip is fruitless and the purpose is not served, you may land in deep trouble. So, concentrate all your energies on getting the work done. Don’t get enamored by the new place. Your company has sent you on a business trip as its representative. Remember this all the time. Also, your colleagues are watching your every move, so it is best that you concentrate on the task at hand.
Manage Small Mishaps
All the business trips have their own share of problems. Cooperate with your colleague to get over any small hindrances in your business trip. Don a leadership hat when problems pertaining to accommodation, ground travel, last-minute rework, etc., arise. If your client decides that he wants to see a new presentation according to his suggestions, coordinate with your colleague and deliver what is expected. Be result-oriented and concentrate on delivering quality work. Carry adequate cash with you for unforeseen yet inevitable hassles.
Stay Positive and Keep Smiling
You may not always get along with your colleague, and there may be altercations between both of you. However, it is important that you do not take the tiff personally and let go of any difference of opinions. No matter what, both of you must always come across as positive professionals and as a strong team. Find a middle ground for your problem, and if that is not possible, you can take the lead in burying the hatchet.
You definitely don’t want the client to get a hint of the cold war between you and your colleague. So, always remain cheerful, keep smiling, and communicate with your colleague under any circumstance.
Set Personal Boundaries
If at a vulnerable moment, your colleague starts telling you about the problems in his marital life or work life and it kind of gets out of control, make it a point to excuse yourself from such conversations. You may never know what the colleague may tell others about this tête-à-tête. Also, as such conversations often tow the line of personal boundaries, it is best not to discuss such topics elaborately.
Don’ts for Traveling with Colleagues
Never Get Drunk
This is a serious no-no. What happens during a work trip does not stay confined to the trip. If you are drunk and did or said some really nasty things, it will surely reach your office. Eventually, it may cause an irreparable damage to your image. Just because your office is paying for your drinks or you were ‘the chosen one’ to attend a sales conference with your colleague, it does not give you the license to overindulge in alcohol.
To exercise control on this problem, you should not drink more than the usual one or two drinks. It will be best if you could avoid drinking completely.
Don’t Get Physically Intimate
A business trip can be a flourishing ground for booming office romantic liaisons. However, it is best to turn down the proposition of a person or colleague who is trying to flirt with you on a business trip. If there is a mutual attraction, you can go on a date when you return, but avoid taking things further on the business trip. Also, it is best not to get intimate with a colleague on a business trip. If the news spreads in the office, it will reflect you in a bad light.
Stay Away from Initiating Awkward Conversations
No matter what, don’t start conversations on awkward topics like sex, race, office gossip, drugs, drinks, religion, politics, etc. These are controversial topics that may hurt the sensitivities of your colleague, so they are best to be avoided. Apart from that, all of us are sensitive towards certain topics (which we are strongly opinionated about).
If you delve too much on such subjects, your colleague will feel threatened and challenged. Hence, you should limit your conversations to light subjects, like work, hobbies, books, family, etc.
Never Push for Sitting Together
Many people like to spend their traveling time in silence, reading, or browsing on their iPad. If your colleague has a similar mindset, then he may not take your insistence to sit beside him in the right spirit. However, there is no way to predict what your colleague or boss feels. Hence, it is best if you sit somewhere else in the first place so that both of you get your own share of privacy.
Don’t Drink Too Much Fluids
Drinking too much water or any other fluids on the plane will require you to visit the lavatory from time to time. Also, if you face this problem when you are traveling between the airport and hotel or venue of the meeting, it may cause a delay and embarrass you. During the meeting also, if you are excusing yourself too many times, it may irritate your colleague and the other party.
Avoid Running Behind Schedule
No matter what you do, see to it that you do not cause a delay in the schedule. Whether it is reaching the airport on time, eating your meals, getting ready for the meeting, or arranging the files for the meeting, ensure that you are always on time. Do not give your colleague a chance to point out that the delay caused for the meeting was solely your fault.
Do Not Share Personal Information
At times when you are away from home, there are chances that you will form strong bonds with your colleagues. At a vulnerable moment or in a drunken stupor, you may inform them about the sensitive personal issues in your life. It will be very unprofessional on your part to divulge too much of personal information to your colleagues. Also, don’t allow them to judge you based on your personal experiences. Refrain from revealing too much.
Avoid Talking All the Time about Travel
Everyone is excited when they get an opportunity to travel to another city, state, or country. But you must remember that the purpose of the travel is not a leisure trip but is solely business. Your company has entrusted you and your colleague with the responsibility to complete the work. So, it is best not to sound overexcited and give wrong indications that you are traveling for a fun vacation rather than for business purposes.
Don’t Dress Inappropriately
Suppose you are traveling on a business trip to Thailand, and you choose to wear a maxi dress along with flip-flops on the plane. Just imagine the kind of image you will be creating in front of your colleagues who will be dressed as professionals in their business suits. You can travel in semi-formals and change into your business attire before going to the meeting venue. However, an informal dress should be avoided. Also, carry adequate work dresses and toiletries, but do not carry excessive baggage.
Do Not Post Odd Statuses and Photos on Facebook
If you have your colleagues or boss on your Facebook account, it is best to avoid posting status messages on your profile which will make it look as if you are going there to enjoy instead of work. It will also create an impression that you care more about the trip than your work. Also, avoid posting personal photos from the trip or tagging your colleagues in the photos depicting you both as tourists who are enjoying their ‘sightseeing’. It may land both of you in major trouble.
Avoid Partying Hard
Remember that the organization is not sending you there to enjoy your personal spring break. No matter where you go, conduct yourself in a professional manner. Not only this, but also remember to be on your best behavior all the time. Do not party till late in the night or get drunk. This can cause you to wake up late and skip the scheduled time of the meeting. Also, you really don’t want to turn up at your client’s office looking all disheveled and groggy.
Never Roam about Alone
If you are traveling to a different country, it is advisable that you ask your colleagues to be with you when you are going outside. Traveling alone will not only put you at risk, but it can also make your colleague extremely worried. Hence, it is important that your colleague knows exactly where you are going and what time you will return. Apart from informing him about your whereabouts, don’t indulge in too much of socialization with unknown people.
Ensure that no matter what the temperament of your boss or colleague, you must always practice patience; especially so with people you don’t like or you don’t get along with. Always look and behave like a thorough professional. Don’t forget to keep a record of all your expenses for reimbursement. Make a note of all the activities of the trip, as you may have to submit a report of your off-site work once you return to office. Ensure that all your decisions and actions work in the best interest of your organization. Last but not the least, don’t forget to sleep well and spend some ‘me time’ whenever time permits.