Updating Your COVID-19 Travel Policy

Travel Policy components need to be updated
For many, the Coronavirus pandemic all but shut down business, and with that corporate travel. As countries start to emerge and open their economies, travel managers must develop policies that will help employees get back to traveling. If you’ve been tasked with managing your company’s business travel, consider the following thoughts when designing your COVID-era travel policy:

It might make sense to think in the interim.
With the unprecedented nature of our current climate, an interim policy has the flexibility to address ever-changing issues. This approach allows for fast action and quick response times to your travelers’ possibly-changing needs. Even as business and travel open back up, the new normal is still being defined. Creating an interim policy helps you stay flexible while your company navigates travel in the Coronavirus-era.


Keep safety in mind when making cost-cutting decisions.
Understandably, your old travel policy might not make sense in today’s climate. With the market in flux and the whole world hitting the pause button, financial concerns are at the top of everyone’s mind. Are there changes in travel requirements? Whatever your reasoning, when making cost-cutting decisions, be sure that it’s not at the expense of traveler safety or security.


Defining “permissible travel” for your company is important.
Until a vaccine becomes available, the structure around permissible travel is fluid, and your company’s policy on the matter will likely need to adapt. Updates must be given to employees quickly. What types of travel will your company allow in each stage of reopening? What approval do you require?


Be specific when addressing risk.
When developing new guidelines, it may help to review upcoming trips and conduct a risk assessment. If you need to cancel travel, what is your policy around refunds and credits? Do you have a backup plan if an employee is stranded while traveling? What happens if an employee becomes ill during or upon returning from business travel with virus-like symptoms? What happens if a boarder or quarantine restriction changes while a traveler is in transit, creating an unplanned quarantine? Understanding your risk, and addressing these “what if” questions will provide peace of mind as your company starts opening business travel.


Above all else, keep your employees in mind.
It’s essential to put your employees at the heart of any changes you make. Find out the concerns your employees have with traveling. For some, it’s the possibility of exposing family members or being required to quarantine upon return. Others might view travel as critical to their performance and feel they need to get back as soon as possible. Understanding your employees’ unique perspective will help you prepare your return to travel policy. Be clear about safety being paramount and communicate the support your company will provide (e.g., PPE/interaction guidelines).

There is no one-size-fits-all travel policy for COVID-19. Including your travelers in the policy change process its a great way to make sure their interests are represented. Now is a great time to ask your HR and Legal teams for support. Together you can develop a faster return plan to your corporate travel.

If you are in the middle of developing or updating your COVID-19 travel policy, we’d love to hear feedback. Email us today at sales@its.com


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