when work travel meets home life
It’s 7pm. You’re working in Rome. Your son’s snuggling up in Edinburgh. And he wants you to read a bedtime story.
Welcome to the world of the work traveller.
Since Covid-19 impacted our lives, travelling won’t be like it used to be for a while. But as the world starts opening up again and thanks to apps like FaceTime and Whatsapp Video, it’s will now be easier to share long-distance moments when we do travel – though without the real-live goodnight hugs. But that practical ease doesn’t always bring emotional comfort. Sometimes being away is just plain tough.
Everyone at Integrity is here because they like working in events, which comes hand-in-hand with the need to travel. Over the years, business has taken us to all kinds of places, seeing and doing things we’d never imagined. Suffice to say, we’ve shared plenty of pinch-me moments (both great and bizarre) on the job.
However, there‘s a flipside – the current global pandemic, which is making travelling to new places harder, an ongoing plus/minus life tally, a balance to be found. Fewer personal ties (when you’re younger, say) make work travel a no-brainer. It’s all adventure! As you grow, there’s more to leave behind: partners, children, parents, pets and plants.
Here’s how some Integrity team members manage to blend the professional with the personal
Director Kate is frank about the sometimes-fun sometimes-crazy duality of her day-to-day life. She feels lucky to have amazing support both on the home front AND in the office which makes everything hang together.
I love my family. I love my job. I couldn’t give either up. When I’m at home on Mum duty I miss the freedom of being just me, able to go to the bathroom alone and enjoy a guaranteed full night’s sleep. And when I’m away, I miss the weekly rhythm of drop offs, muddy dog walks and hugs from the kids. Family life goes on whether I’m there or not. But they can manage without me. And I can have time for the work that I love.
Our project exec Andy chooses to see the event manager lifestyle as a list of pros and cons. On the plus side, he loves to experience new places, cultures and foods – especially ones he might not have thought of trying. Sometimes his work trips even influence his personal holiday choices, and he occasionally stays on in a location (on his own dollar) for some R & R after a work event ends.
Travelling to different countries as part of your work is pretty cool – and it certainly breaks up the monotony of a desk job.
At the same time, he finds being away from his partner tough on both of them. And he misses his own bed, not to mention his kitchen…
As much as I love eating out, by the end of a trip I look forward to getting back to cooking my own meals!
I love my family. I love my job. I couldn’t give up either.
Graeme, another of our project execs, headed off to an on-site job just a month after he returned from paternity leave for his first child. He described it as a ‘rip off the plaster situation’ but nonetheless not the easiest experience.
There’s no denying it’s hard being apart at first, though uninterrupted sleep on a comfy hotel bed eases the pain. You’re also never really alone on site… There’s always something to do, a colleague to chat to or a delegate to catch up with. Now I have got used to a new way of working FaceTime is the new normal so I could grab 10 minutes of face-to-face babbling and tears (me) and total indifference (son). Integrity has a very family-like culture, so being away with colleagues who get when it’s time to joke around, and when you need cheering up is a massive help.
Our event manager Jill comes from a background where work travel is the norm for both her parents and her partner. Now it’s her turn, she’s finding out that travel for work IS sometimes as glamorous as it sounds! New places, great restaurants, a (usually) nice hotel – what’s not to like? She finds the busy event atmosphere means time passes quickly and she’s always tired enough to sleep. She can’t wait to get back to travelling for work when live events start happening again.
That said, she has some sound advice to offer about what happens on either side of a trip:
There’s a disruption to family life that doesn’t only apply to the time you’re away. Getting ready to go and sorting things out once you’re back can affect the whole family’s routine. So, schedule time to return to the norm, do some washing (so you have something to wear to work) and relax. Luckily our office has some great bakers (Eimear and Linds) on hand with yummy treats for your first day back!
We’re lucky to have FaceTime a click away so I could grab 10 minutes of face-to-face babbling and tears (me) and total indifference (son).
Integrity’s founder Lindsey – a seasoned work traveller – has no trouble listing what she loves about her job. But she reminds us to spare a thought for any four-legged pals we leave behind.
I’ve always counted the opportunity to travel with work as a privilege. A chance to meet interesting people and see something of a city, even if just from a cab! What’s not to love about cities like Rome? And I’ve been able to look up friends in Cape Town, Sydney and New York. The downside is leaving my canine ‘kids’ Daisy and Rolo. No matter how much I tell myself they can’t count days (like me) and have a fine time with my amazing dog-walking/boarding supporters, anything more than a few days is tinged with a little sadness. The good thing is, they forgive me every time!
Pros and cons, cons and pros. Working in events can be hectic, inspiring, frustrating, stomach-churningly exciting and very tiring.