The tricky topic of sharing rooms is a question that frequently crops up in corporate travel. The situation is a minefield to navigate on both sides. Managers under pressure to save money can inadvertently set themselves up for huge issues, including possible litigation. Meanwhile, anxious employees seek advice from colleagues on how to get their own room. Pretty soon, at best, you have a team of unhappy employees and, at worst, a discrimination lawsuit on your hands. So why would companies insist on a room-sharing policy, and why is it always a terrible idea?
Why do businesses suggest that coworkers share rooms?
1. They think sharing rooms is the easiest way to reduce the cost of corporate travel.
Predominantly companies ask their teams to share rooms because they wish to reduce costs and believe the savings outweigh any discomfort it causes their employees. Halving their accommodation spend, especially when organizing trips for entire teams, does significantly impact a business’ annual travel budget. However, the consequences of making coworkers share a room could rack up much larger bills.
2. They believe sharing rooms fosters stronger bonds between colleagues.
Many organizations believe sharing rooms when working away is a form of team building. They think it allows colleagues to get to know each other on a deeper level and believe these bonds are impossible to form within the office setting.
Why asking employees to share a hotel room is not a good idea.
Business travel can be intense.
Most business trip schedules are intense. After a long day of taking meetings and negotiating your way around a new city, it’s vital to have some downtime. After a year of zoom meetings in 2020, corporate travelers are eager to get back on the road. But as restrictions begin to lift, companies will understandably tighten budgets.
Corporate travelers and managers alike will be keen to make the most of every work trip. Business travelers need to have some time and space to regroup in private to perform at their best. As humans, our biological wiring is to feel vulnerable when we sleep. So sharing a room with a colleague, even one we get on well with, is not conducive to getting a great night’s rest.
Combine this with jet lag or light sleepers, and you could have a recipe for disaster! Earplugs won’t cut it if you want your corporate travelers to be at their best the next day. It’s vital to ensure your budget covers a double room for each of your employees so they can have their own space to rest and recover for the following day.
It damages established boundaries.
Throughout their careers, people deliberately hold professional boundaries. Keeping parts of our lives private is important for our mental well-being. But professional boundaries also enable us to work more effectively with our colleagues, especially in management positions.
Sleeping in the same room as a colleague can violate these boundaries. Many companies find out too late that any falsely perceived benefits of team building are massively outweighed by denying employees their privacy. The bottom line is that forcing employees to get to know each other on such an intimate level is inappropriate.
Having been made to deal with their colleague’s snores or late-night working habits, employees might find it challenging to maintain their professionalism the next morning. As their boss, you don’t want a business trip to be the last time two colleagues got along!
It breaks your duty of care towards your team.
No one wants to overhear their employees asking how to get out of sharing a hotel room. These break room chats can be a worrying indicator of discontent and a human resources headache on the horizon.
Your duty of care to your employees is to ensure they feel safe, respected, and appreciated at work. As an employer, there will be lots about your team you will not know. Bunking up with colleagues might not seem like a big deal to you, but it could be hugely triggering to employees. They might not feel safe sleeping in the same room as someone they do not know.
There could be reasons for wanting separate rooms that they don’t wish to explain, and they could be concerned about being unfairly labeled as difficult. Management should not underestimate the impact this could have on their employees’ mental health.
Another essential consideration is that your employees may have medical conditions that make it difficult for them to share a hotel room. They may not wish to disclose this information, and you could be creating significant embarrassment for them as they try to navigate getting out of sharing a room.
What’s more, by forcing the subject, you could be breaking the law. The only way to ensure you are following legislation and avoiding discriminatory behavior is to remove any shared room policy from your organization.
Forcing employees to share rooms takes advantage of their goodwill.
It’s easy for companies to forget that employees are giving their free time when traveling on business. Instead of spending their evenings with family or friends, pursuing their hobbies, or relaxing at home, they are on the road putting in extra hours to travel.
They deserve to have some personal space in the evening, especially when they have an early morning start ahead. Whether they want to make phone calls to loved ones, order room service, or explore the city, it’s essential to respect your corporate travelers’ time outside their schedule.
On top of this, business travelers may feel anxious about leaving their families for the first time after last year’s pandemic. Expecting employees to have a roomie and be in business mode 24/7, especially after the turmoil of 2020, is the fastest way to breed job dissatisfaction and have your employees searching for a new job.
There are more effective ways to save money on your corporate travel spend.
At the end of the day, asking employees to forgo a private room is an unpopular and potentially perilous way to save on your travel costs. Rather than risking the pitfalls of shared accommodation, using developments in travel booking technology can make your corporate travel more cost-effective. An online booking tool or OBT can streamline your systems, saving you money and time.
With an OBT like TravelPerk, travel managers no longer need to sift through multiple websites sourcing rates. We have the world’s largest inventory of travel options, enabling us to negotiate the best prices for our clients. Plus, with TravelPerk’s VAT recovery system, you can reduce costs by up to a further 20%, thanks to our itemized reports.
Travel managers can upload corporate travel policies, preferred airlines, and hotel chains in under 2 minutes. Meanwhile, business travelers are more content as they can select from a range of fully compliant options, making it easier for teams to hit travel policy targets.
Plus, our reporting makes it easy to manage your organization’s travel budget while streamlined invoicing reduces hours of chasing receipts. If you would like to find out how TravelPerk can help you save on your corporate travel spend, reach out and schedule a demonstration with our sales team today.