Business Trip ConfessionsWhat Really Happens During Work Travel

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Business Trip ConfessionsWhat Really Happens During Work Travel

Business trips. Are they all work and no play, or is it more what seems like all work but mostly play? Business travel happens quite often; in fact, 54.5 percent of employees travel for business. U.S. travelers took 462 million domestic business trips in 2017, accounting for $1.23 trillion contributed to the global economy in 2017.

With all this business travel, there is bound to be some naughtiness in the background. Perhaps someone had a little too much to drink at a company dinner or hooked up with a client or co-worker, clearly breaking that “no interoffice relations” rule. Do people’s actions during these trips follow them back to the office, or is it all kept on the down-low? Does more illicit behavior happen in one industry versus another? Do demographics affect who is participating in these unprofessional activities? We surveyed various businessmen and -women whose occupation required them to travel to see just how these work trips pan out.

When Business Leaves the Office

Traveling for business is not uncommon, as many people have offices, clients, or customers in various locales, and many industry trade conferences require travel to attend. The amount of travel varied most notably by industry and job role more so than gender, as both men and women appeared to travel for business equally throughout the year.

Higher-level positions, such as managers or supervisors, were more likely to attend business meetings or conferences outside of the main office, as they were found to travel almost 2 percentage points more during the year than employees. Those upper-level employees have been hired or promoted because they exude the professionalism, communication skills, and industry knowledge needed and often called for outside of the office.

We found that employees who worked in the marketing and advertising industry spent 13.6 percent of the year traveling for work-related reasons, the most of any industry. Companies in this industry, such as consulting firms and creative agencies, will often have clients and customers who are located in other cities and states and feel face-to-face meetings are crucial to maintaining their business relationship. Information could be misconstrued when communicated only via email and conference calls, and business can easily be lost if there is no personal contact. For this, travel is required from either party.

Construction and technology were the next two industries to see its employees spending a lot of time during the year traveling for business, 12.7 percent and 11.3 percent respectively. However, it was the manufacturing industry in which employees spent the highest average amount of time on these work trips, coming in at approximately 6.5 days per trek.

Risky Business

Business travelers are most likely spending quite a lot of time with other colleagues or clients during work trips. You’re in close proximity while doing your actual job, but then after your work is done, it’s time for happy hour and dinner. Most conferences will also usually end with some kind of “networking” event, at the conclusion of the end of the seminars and workshops. All of these after-work activities will inevitably involve the consumption of alcohol – and that can lead people down a slippery slope. While on a business trip, most employees – over half of those surveyed – got drunk outside of working hours, and almost 30 percent got drunk during a work event. It was more often those in managerial positions who dared to over consume while they were working, while both managers and employees almost equally drank outside work events.

Those managers also more frequently used marijuana or illicit drugs, visited strip clubs, and met up with someone from a dating app or website. This could be because managers may feel as though they are the “ones in charge,” with no one else above them to check their actions, while employees do have managers above them watching their every move. There may also be instances where it is the client who encourages a manager to go out and drink or engage in other activities.

Every company culture is different, and employees should take their cues from what they’ve learned about their company culture before imbibing during a business trip. In every case, however, you are taking a chance when you decide to have a drink in the company of your co-workers or clients.

Money Talks

The amount of money a person earns annually has a large effect on their behavior in the workplace, be it because of feelings of entitlement or simply because of varying lifestyles. Employees who earned an annual income of $75,000 or more were more likely to engage in illicit or sexual activities during a business trip, with the exception of using marijuana. These employees make more money; therefore, they likely have more money to spend, and the activities they participate in are usually things that can rack up a big bill. Drinks at a hotel bar, for instance, are usually much more expensive than your typical pub or restaurant. In some extreme cases, cocktails could be as much as $20 or more.

Believe it or not, the average person who smokes marijuana earns at least $75,000 a year, which may explain why about 44 percent of employees who made $75,000 or more engaged in this illicit activity during a business trip; however, the main participant in marijuana smoking appeared to be those in the lower earning range, at less than $25,000. Perhaps this is accounting for the younger generations, the 25- to 29-year-olds who make up the majority of recreational marijuana smokers, who are just starting in their careers and not at their highest earning potential just yet.

Can I Get a Witness?

Being in the wrong place at the wrong time during a business trip can result in witnessing something you simply cannot unsee. If this happens, is it wise to invoke that what-happens-in-Vegas-stays-in-Vegas mindset or come clean? How does one react to something as significant as seeing his or her co-worker or boss participating in an illicit or sexual act, especially when it’s something illegal or something that could potentially ruin relationships at home.

People on business trips most often saw their co-workers, rather than their managers or bosses, engage in drunken conduct both during and outside of work hours. However, when it came to witnessing someone cheating on their significant other, it was the bosses who were caught doing so more often than co-workers –not by much, only a 1.8 percent point difference between the two. The only other instance when bosses were witnessed participating in an unprofessional activity more than co-workers is stealing. Bosses were caught stealing significantly more than co-workers, at 13.4% versus 5.8%.

When the Cat’s Away …

[Cheating can have many different connotations]( Is hitting on someone who is not your significant other considered cheating even if nothing happens? Your significant other, sitting home while you are away on a business trip, may think so. The levels of “cheating” explored during business trips range from the mere act of *thinking* about cheating to actually committing the deed.

As many as 1 in 5 people who were in relationships considered cheating with or have hit on someone while on a business trip. While it was mainly strangers who people considered cheating with, 7.6 percent also considered cheating with their co-workers. When it came to taking the next step and hitting on someone, 13.4 percent of those traveling for business chose strangers instead.

Then there is the case of the physical act of cheating, such as making out with or having sex with someone who is not the person’s significant other. The cheating happened most frequently with a stranger – 6.5 percent of men and 4.1 percent of women.

These Are My Confessions

The “Business” Behind the Business

As you can see, acting out of normal character while away on business is simply a part of the game. It’s almost as though people turn into different versions of themselves, and do things they might not otherwise do when on their own turf –like going to a strip club, which 1 in 5 employees have done during a business trip, or engaging in sexual relations with a co-worker, which 1.6 percent of women and 2.6 percent of men did. Perhaps it’s the unfamiliarity of being away from your everyday routine, the exhilaration of getting away with something so secretive and taboo, or even the thrill of possibly getting caught in the act. Regardless of the reasons behind it, there is a lot more than just business happening on a business trip.

Of course, not all work trips have to include these kinds of shenanigans. Business travel happens in all industries, some more than others. To learn more about various industries and their take on traveling, visit SimplyHired to search and apply for jobs and read up on company culture, travel opportunities, and more.

Methodology and Limitations

We collected data via survey using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. The total number of respondents in the survey was 1,007, all of which were currently employed. 56% of respondents were male, and 44% were women. 78.2% were employees, while 21.8% were managers or supervisors. 5.5% worked in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry; 2.9% worked in construction; 13.4% worked in education; 12.9% worked in finance and insurance; 6.6% worked in government and public administration; 6.6% worked in hotel, food services, and hospitality; 6.3% worked in information services and data processing; 2.9% worked in legal; 6.4% worked in manufacturing; 4.1% worked in marketing and advertising; 10.0% worked in medical and health care; 8.8% worked in technology; 4.1% worked in transportation and warehousing; and 9.1% worked in wholesale and retail. 11.1% of respondents earned less than $25,000 annually; 12.0% earned between $25,000 and $34,999; 21.5% earned between $35,000 and $49,999; 29.3% earned between $50,000 and $74,999; 14.7% earned between $75,000 and $99,999; and 11.3% earned $100,000 or more. Participants’ ages were between 18 and 74 with a mean of 35.8 and a standard deviation of 10.0.

For the graphic titled: “How Frequently Do Employees Travel for Work?” the total number of working business days to calculate the percentage of the year spent traveling for business was 261. This number represents an average, and it is entirely possible that different industries and/or jobs skew higher or lower. The calculation is as follows: (number of days spent traveling/average number of working days per year)*100.

If a demographic group had below a sample size of 25, they were excluded from the analysis. The data were not statistically tested, and future research into this topic could aim to be more statistically analytical.


Fair Use Statement

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