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May 13, 2022

Covid-19 accelerates the ‘bleisure’ trend but could impact work life balance

While it may seem impossible to confuse work time with leisure time, the rapid expansion of home working during the pandemic has seemingly changed this.

By Globaldata Travel and Tourism

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing digitalisation of the workplace, the lines between business and leisure are becoming more blurred. Many business travellers are now combining the two activities within what would be a typical business trip. However, the development of this trend does have  moral implications, due to its impact on an individual’s work-life balance.

Business and leisure time is becoming harder to differentiate

While it may seem impossible to confuse work time with leisure time, the rapid expansion of home working during the pandemic has seemingly changed this. With offices now based within sitting rooms, bedrooms, and dining rooms across the world, more and more workers have constant access to their place of work through laptops, tablets, and smartphones. These devices can be taken almost anywhere thanks to Wi-Fi and 5G connectivity, meaning many workers are now connected to their place of work wherever they go, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This has significantly widened the potential scope for combining business and leisure.

Digitalisation of the workplace is a major factor in the bleisure travel trend

Covid-19 forced many businesses to adapt and change the way they typically work. Many companies had to operate remotely at the height of the pandemic due to social distancing restrictions. As a result, many employees were provided smartphones and laptops to work with. Conferencing tools, project management applications, and other collaborative software programs have enabled colleagues and clients to connect remotely on a global scale. In a post-pandemic era, where travel will be freer, this type of access will encourage travellers to stay engaged with their place of work, despite enjoying leisure time. 

Business trips often have downtime, making it easier to incorporate leisure activities

With trade shows, conferences, and events growing in popularity once more, the MICE sector is expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels by approximately 2025, with approximately 108 million outbound trips globally, according to GlobalData. Often, these types of trips occur over several days, not all of which may be relevant to the traveller’s business objectives. Furthermore, some meetings and events may only last for a few hours, which could create a significant amount of downtime before travelling home. Other travellers also use bleisure as an opportunity to expand their trip, by combining annual leave with business travel arrangements. The development of remote software allows the traveller to stay connected to the office as and when necessary.

Bleisure could impact mental health due the disruption of the work life balance

Despite the growing pleisure travel trend, the development may not be entirely positive, given the ever-increasing concerns surrounding mental health and the importance of a solid work-life balance. According to a GlobalData Q3 2021 Global Consumer Survey, 50% of respondents said they were either ‘extremely’ or ‘quite’ concerned about their mental health. Combining business and leisure can infringe on important relaxation time, enabling employees to recharge and ultimately making them more productive upon returning to work. However, bleisure can be disruptive as it can potentially prevent individuals from ‘unplugging’ from their work. In the future, companies will need to consider the employee’s wellbeing and monitor communications carefully in out- of-work hours or perceived annual leave to ensure they don’t experience burnout.

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