During the current pandemic, international travel is heavily restricted and advised against in most cases. However, those travelling for business purposes, where it isn’t possible to work remotely, the government allows travel.
On their website, they say:
“Challenges to any international travel at this time may include mandatory COVID-19 testing requirements, quarantines, travel restrictions, and closed borders. Foreign governments may implement restrictions with little notice, even in destinations that were previously low risk. If you choose to travel internationally, your trip may be severely disrupted, and it may be difficult to arrange travel back to the United States.”
Where travel is essential for work to continue, steps can be taken to mitigate the risks of travelling through a pandemic.
1. Constant communication
During a trip, communication with the employee leaving can often be limited, however during a pandemic, increased updates are essential. This could be arrangements around meetings, food deliveries and contact with secondary parties such as medical insurers.
When travelling in a pandemic, providing a main communication point for the employee on the road means that any additional admin work required due to increased forms and security can be completed.
As well as with the company, employees must be allowed to regularly contact family and friends for mental health benefits, especially during any required isolation.
2. Immediate escalation/ change in travel advice
There’s always a risk of an overnight change in travel advice or restrictions, so it pays to be prepared for such a change. Whether this is having flexible air tickets, a credit or debit card with immediate fund loading or a mitigation plan, there are many options for ensuring an employee who is temporarily stuck in a country has access to key needs.
If they’re in a hotel compound, access to the outdoors will be easier, so choosing a place that private outdoor areas and good facilities will help employees in a tricky situation.
3. Evaluating the destination before travel
Certain areas, such as those currently on banned lists, aren’t permissible to travel to, through or from either returning home or outbound.
Even those travelling for business purposes are not permissible to banned countries, and if an area looks to be soon added to a Level 4 list, travel isn’t a good idea.
As well at risk of being locked in a country with rapid case escalation, checking that adequate medical care is available, any mandatory quarantines or restrictions that could affect the nature of the work and the risk of the person travelling, are they likely to get infected?
Extensive research and checks must be done before a trip is even considered.
4. Area of stay
When choosing a place to stay, checking the facilities available, what catering is offered and whether private outdoor space is available. As options for recreation, entertainment and even outdoor access could be limited, choosing a location that can ensure managed access to certain areas means that employees are not confined to a room, instead have a compound to explore.
While city centre hotels may be more convenient, a hotel outside a city centre but with good transport links is a better alternative for employees' mental wellbeing, especially at the minute.
5. End of travel isolation
Erring on the side of caution is best when an employee is returning from an overseas destination. As it’s hard to track every person they could have been in contact with, choosing to offer an isolation period to your employee that doesn’t affect their holiday pay can ensure safe working of other employees.
Whether this is in a hotel, or a period of time for them to stay at home, offering this option to an employee can reassure them that you’re looking out for their best interests.
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