High stress levels: Challenges of work travel #4

Blogs about the challenges of work travel

This week’s blog is the fourth in my series about the challenges of work travel. My previous blogs in the series included the impact of work travel on physical and mental health, and the challenges for children. I’ve written this blog series in anticipation of an upcoming workshop I’ll be facilitating for regional managers who frequently travel for work.

Work travel causes high stress for the traveller and their spouse at home

In their research with those who travel for work, Espino et al (2002) report that almost 75% of their participants reported high or very high stress related to business travel. The identified causes of their stress included:

  1. the perceived negative impact on the traveller's family

  2. worrying about their workload upon returning to the office

  3. the stress of the travel itself, such as unpredictable travel schedules, frequent or back-to-back trips, or trips for extended periods of time

There is also a lot of stress for the spouse or partner who stays at home, particularly when they have children.

The author of When a Parent Has to Travel for Work points to the stress of parenting while a spouse or partner is away. She shares several helpful suggestions to navigate through this stress:

  1. Know that it’s ok for your child to feel upset while your partner is away - try to remain calm and reassure them.

  2. Stick to major routines like bedtime and naps, but don't add stress by trying to do things in exactly the same way as your partner. Do what works for you and the children.

  3. Try to make a little time for yourself once the children are in bed or once they’ve gone to school

How can organisations help?

  1. As far as possible, work out a travel schedule which allows employees to take shorter trips with time between trips so they can return home frequently

  2. Recognise that the workload on returning to the office is a potential source of stress and offer support in managing workload

  3. Try to plan strategic travel ahead of time and avoid unpredictable travel where possible

How I can help

Increasing children’s understanding of their feelings plus their emotional vocabulary means they can share how they feel when one parent is absent. The activities in my emotion cards are designed to help with this and are taken from my doctoral research. They increased the emotional vocabulary of the children in my class by over 300% in a very short space of time.

For additional input on developing emotional vocabulary in the family, I offer a one-hour bespoke consultation for parents. In the consultation, I share simple and practical strategies on how to use the emotion cards in a particular family context.

You might also like to find out more about my coaching and consultations for parents and families. They offer personalised support for your family on navigating the stress experienced when one partner travels with work.