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Sanjay Parekh

Webexpenses

Managing Director

Read more about Sanjay Parekh

What can we do about the rise of the ‘bleisure’ trip?

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There’s a new buzz word in town. Like it or loathe it, but ‘bleisure’ is on the rise among the UK’s employees – following the American trend for rolling business trips and holidays into one. As many of us find ourselves increasingly time poor due to commitments in our personal and working lives, taking ‘bleisure’ trips seems like the perfect solution.

In fact, according to recent research by Jurys Inn, one-in-five business travelers viewed an overseas working trip as a holiday opportunity. However, while US companies tend to be more tolerant towards these ‘extended stays’, many UK companies are finding it a challenging concept to get to grips with.

Why the headache you may ask? Well, as the boundaries between our working and personal lives become increasingly blurred, so does the way employees track and claim their expenses. ‘Bleisure’ trips, or ‘bizcations’ as they are sometimes known, have certainly brought this issue into sharp focus over the last year.

With this in mind, there is still a huge grey area for both employers and their staff as to who pays for what when business and pleasure are mixed.  In my view, it’s perfectly reasonable for an employee who’s staying in a beautiful and unexplored foreign city, to want to make the most of their visit. However it’s also equally reasonable for finance teams to be suspicious when it comes to the resulting expenses.

One way which employers can resolve this tricky conundrum, is to clearly set out their stall when it comes to travel expenses. By stating what employees can claim for and putting in place guidance on what is a ‘reasonable’ use of company resource, employers can actually turn their anxiety on the issue of ‘bleisure’ into a huge positive.

For example, organisations should clearly outline how much they will pay of an employee’s sustenance costs while on their trip. Ultimately this should be fair and give employees some scope to enjoy themselves as part of their stay.

In addition, employers may also want to stipulate some simple guiding principles around what they will pay for when it comes to hire cars and airfares. One way of doing this may be to state that employees travel in economy or second class to keep costs low, or even put an upper limit on fuel expenses. Even though these seem like quite meager measures, costs will soon build up if some form of governance is not put in place. For instance, if an average claimant ‘rounds up’ a single journey mileage claim by 20 miles, it means that a company with 500 claimants is paying £4,500 a year more than they need to.

One important point to remember is that your travel expenses policy should not come across as draconian in its tone, and should allow staff some room for personal enjoyment within reason. By doing this you will create a working environment which is open and one where employees are less likely to make false expenses claims.

In fact, by tackling the grey area that is the ‘bleisure’ trip head on, you’ll actually see that your staff become more motivated and productive in the knowledge that they are working for a company which recognises the need for balance when it comes to work and leisure time. This is certainly a philosophy which we have instilled at webexpenses, and one which has brought with it huge business benefits for our bottom line.

With this in mind, every UK business should embrace the concept of the ‘bleisure’ trip – even if the phrase itself is somewhat cringeworthy. By putting in place a clear and simple travel expenses policy – which also allows some room for employees to enjoy themselves too – you will quickly find that your staff become more motivated and in turn more productive. This can only be good news for those UK businesses who are starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel in regard to the economic challenges of the last few years.

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Sanjay Parekh

Managing Director

Read more from Sanjay Parekh
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