Keeping the mobile workforce safe in 2020
Business travel is increasingly becoming the norm as organisations look beyond the horizon to seize greater opportunities and margins in other countries. The potential to scale is enormous, with business travel expected to grow to £1.3 trillion in annual global spend by 2022. But could investment into the opportunities abroad be a risky gamble for organisations that are not prepared for the potential health and security risks posed on their travelling employees?
In this article by Pacific Prime UK, we will evaluate the top three health and security risks to business travellers, and touch on the importance of securing corporate insurance for their reassurance and protection.
The key risks to businesses in 2020
According to the 2020 Business Travel Resilience Study by International SOS, 51 per cent of business decision-makers believed that health and security risks increased in 2019, and looking ahead into 2020, around 47 per cent predict that risks will rise even higher.
International SOS, the world’s leading medical and travel security risk services company, and the Travel Risk Management Council have identified three top risks that are most likely to cause changes to travel itineraries for businesses in 2020. These are:
- Mental health
- Geopolitical events
Travelling to another country, having direct face-to-face contact with clients and colleagues, as well as experiencing a completely different culture are some of the amazing benefits that business travellers gain. However, the need to travel internationally can also have an impact on an employee’s mental and physical health.
This is not surprising when you consider that being away from the comfort of home can disrupt normal routines, including healthy eating patterns, social activities, regular activities and most importantly, family. Therefore, employers need to have a robust set of mitigation measures in place to protect their travelling employees.
Findings from the ‘2020 Business Travel Resilience Study’ found that 40 per cent of international business travellers reported having a good work/life balance while abroad. This meant the rest of the 60 per cent of business travellers had a more difficult time adapting to a change in their work environment. So, it comes as no surprise that the research also indicated that one-quarter of business travellers experienced health issues.
Additionally, it was revealed that there is a current lack of provision in terms of mental health support for business travellers. In fact, only 21 per cent of business travellers surveyed said they were offered mental health support, and just 25 per cent had access to wellness programmes.
These findings are worth noting as the lack of support is not just detrimental to employees and wellbeing, but can also affect the business’s interests abroad. Employers can approach an employee benefits specialist and employ a suitable wellness program that offers mental support.
Travelling abroad poses unique cybersecurity threats because regular business travellers tend to carry sensitive data, both personal and business-related, on a range of devices including smartphones, laptops and tablets. Therefore, the threat of cyberattacks and hacking when business travellers are in different locations is high, which is why both employees and employers have to work closely together to reduce the security risk posed by cybercriminals.
There are simple measures that can be taken by both employees and employers, such as:
- Locking down devices
- Paying attention to public wifi
- Disabling auto-connect on your devices
- Minimising location sharing
- Installing antivirus protection
- Updating operating systems and passwords
On top of these measures, employers should work closely with employees to make sure that they have the right training and understanding of policies and procedures from a cybersecurity perspective.
There is an overwhelming sense of unpredictability in the world of business, making geopolitical shifts one of the top trends that decision-makers believe will influence business travellers to change their itineraries. These include:
- Increased terrorism
- Trade wars
- Civil unrest
The above will most definitely impede the plans made by business travellers as they directly disrupt the course of action which business travellers intend to take. As such, accurate forecasting and timely updates and analysis from experts on the subject matters can help an employer develop risk management plans and enable secure and informed travel for employees. More so, employers can offer protection in the form of business travel insurance.
What is business travel insurance?
Business travel insurance focuses on the extended travel insurance cover for employees going abroad, which also includes stolen/broken belongings, topped up with emergency medical evacuation and health insurance cover.
What does business travel insurance cover?
Travelling abroad can be a stressful experience, especially for employees that travel great distances for meetings or projects.
Mishaps during business travels
A potential number of mishaps such as trip cancellations, missed flight connections, lost baggage, weather disasters and medical emergencies, might happen anytime. This is true during geopolitical shifts when changes can be sudden without prior notice, like Iranian-US tensions, that caused many flights to either be delayed or cancelled to lower risks.
Damaged, lost or stolen devices
A damaged, lost or stolen laptop or work device can be a disaster for business travellers.
As we have discussed, lost company laptops can also become a cybersecurity threat to a company. Therefore, securing cybersecurity insurance is advised to cover the costs of potential cyberattacks on a device that was stolen or illegally hacked.
Secure comprehensive health insurance and medical emergencies coverage for employees working abroad
Generally, companies that place their employees on international assignments will provide comprehensive medical insurance, along with emergency medical coverage as an add on. If employees are away for more than three months to a year, then short-term health insurance may be more beneficial and cost-effective.
Speak to Pacific Prime UK for more information
At the end of the day, responsibility doesn’t begin or end with arranging flights and accommodation for employees heading out on international assignments. Instead, there should be proper provisions in place to ensure that the mental health and wellness of employees are looked after. The provision of a well-tailored wellness program can guarantee that the mental and physical health of employees remains at a healthy level and a business travel insurance plan can provide cover for all those unexpected mishaps.
By getting in touch with a leading insurance broker, like Pacific Prime UK, you will have access to experts that can locate and compare the best corporate insurance policies, including business travel insurance to protect both the organisation and employees wherever they are in the world.
His expert view and wealth of knowledge on insurance can also be found in his blogs for the UK, China, Dubai, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
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