FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Are You Guilty of Fraud on Expenses?

by Aoife O’Riordan

Sep 30, 2023

PHOTO: © SVEN HANSCHE | DREAMSTIME.COM

September 2023

It seems remote work is the defining word of not just 2020, but also 2021, 2022, 2023 and most likely 2024 and beyond. What was once a foreign concept to many is now commonplace. According to a 2023 Forbes study on remote work, 98 percent of workers want to work remote at least some of the time, with 57 percent of respondents answering they would seek a new job if their current company didn’t allow for remote work.

So, in an age where remote work is inevitable, especially in certain industries like marketing, finance and computer/IT work, it’s no surprise a new trend emerges: bleisure. Blending business and leisure, this term refers to workers who enjoy a vacation while working. At its core, there are two types of bleisure: business trips taken with friends and family tagging along, and business trips extended on the front or backend of a visit.

In a recent survey by Hilton Hotels & Resorts, seven out of 10 business travelers aged 25–30 want to extend work trips for a mini-vacation. While business travel is often filled with stress thanks to long flights, time away from family and airport security lines to name a few, having something to look forward to within or at the end of a business trip often sees happier workers with better mental states.

Proponents of bleisure cite flexibility as one of the main reasons the trend is so popular. And it’s not just workers who are for this concept: Companies themselves embrace bleisure, whether because they see the mental and emotional benefits it has on workers or because they realize there’s no stopping it. It’s like a train with no brakes, but why pump the brakes when more and more research backs up the benefits of bleisure? In fact, research by CWT, a B2B4E travel management platform, revealed 92 percent of business travelers and 82 of home workers feel the positives of bleisure outweigh the negatives.

Accor’s CEO Sébastien Bazin sees it as an unstoppable force, “Don’t try anymore to segregate leisure and business, because it’s going to be vastly impossible except on [meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions] and congress events.”

Seems like bleisure is a win across the board, right? Well, the longer bleisure exists, the more potential problems arise. And perhaps it’s up to companies to solve them, because the more we see bleisure appear, the more it’s here to stay, not as a phenomenon but as an everyday aspect of a new age.

“The convergence of business and leisure behaviors was once remarkable. Not anymore…” noted Crown Plaza Hotels & Resorts in a 2022 report. In essence, bleisure marks a post- pandemic era.

That all said, bleisure is such a loose concept, it’s hard for companies to enforce certain rules for workers seeking this balance between travel and work. Creating a clear “bleisure policy” that ensures employees adhere to company rules is important, but it’s hard to separate business travel for remote workers from leisure trips. Basically, companies continue to tinker with ways to best execute this blended travel concept.

Suzanne Neufang, CEO, GBTA, believes blended travel is often “hidden” in the line of accommodation. This means an employee could privately pay for accommodations for the leisure part of a trip but use company funds for transportation and hotel matters during the business portion of a trip. And because there’s no set rules for what bleisure includes or doesn’t include, it’s hard to determine what is and isn’t allowed. If an employee adds an extra day at the end of a business trip, do they pay for the Uber to the airport, or does the company?

One of the main concerns for companies is guaranteeing employees aren’t cheating the system, but what this system is from company to company and what is considered “cheating” is all relative. “Cheating the system” could entail employees using business and company funds for the leisure part of a bleisure trip, an employee not specifying or confirming with superiors their travel plans, or anything and everything in between. Then there’s the added concern of liability; once a company agrees on an employee’s trip with added leisure time, any accidents or problems could fall on the company.

As 2023 nears its end in the next few months, we’d think businesses would have cracked the code on how to manage bleisure and ensure employees do not abuse it, but we still have a way to go. One thing is certain: Bleisure seems to be here to stay. In a 2022 survey of global travelers by American Hotel & Lodging Association, 89 percent of respondents want to add some leisure time to their next business trip, proving bleisure is anything but a fad.

Companies seeking future success recognize bleisure is a culture redefining the entire meaning of work and travel. Maybe bleisure was always bound to happen, and with many companies adapting to the trend, we expect to see workers become even more connected with the world around them and experience new places they otherwise never would have.

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