As baby boomers extend their careers and Generation Z workers launch theirs, we’ve arrived at a four-generation workforce. And within it, baby boomers, Generation Xers, millennials and Gen Zers each have their own perceptions of work and personal time – both at the office and when they travel for business. But across all four groups, there’s a clear trend: That elusive goal of “work-life balance” is giving way to a more fluid “work-life blending” that better fits the dynamic schedule of the modern worker.
National Car Rental’s third annual State of Business Travel survey shows that while 67% of respondents still try to draw a line between their work and personal lives, 65% believe it’s an unrealistic goal. Instead, more than half of respondents are now blending work life and personal life, rather than attempting to keep them separate.
What does this work-life blending look like? During an average week, respondents answered emails after working hours on 3.97 days, arrived early or stayed late on 3.72 days and took work calls after working hours on 3.00 days. But, while at work, they also answered personal emails on 2.94 days, took personal calls on 2.85 days and worked on personal projects on 1.63 days. This shift to blending is actually endorsed by senior and executive leaders, 65% of whom said they prefer to blend their personal and professional lives.
“Bleisure” Travel Continues and is More Accepted
The data shows this trend is particularly prevalent among business travelers and is popularly referred to as “bleisure.” The survey found most business travelers (81%) engage in some form of bleisure travel, including incorporating leisure activities into business travel (61%), extending business travel into leisure trips (41%) and booking a vacation around a business trip (33%). Millennials (86%) are more likely to have done bleisure travel than Gen Xers (76%) and baby boomers (73%). In addition, senior/executive leaders are almost twice as likely to extend their business trip into leisure travel (50%) or book a vacation around their business trip (40%) than non-managers (28% and 27%, respectively).
“In an increasingly connected and mobile world, we’re seeing employees – and business travelers, in particular – finding new ways to balance their work and personal time,” says Don Moore, senior vice president of global business rental for Enterprise Holdings, which owns and operates National Car Rental, as well as the Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Alamo Rent A Car brands. “As we enter this new decade of the 21st century, National’s research suggests this shift in thinking. Instead of trying to meet unrealistic expectations, we’re actively seeking ways to blend work and leisure to achieve both life and career satisfaction.”
When traveling for business, workers who engage in bleisure travel report higher overall satisfaction with their quality of life while on the road (91% vs. 79%) than non-bleisure travelers. They also report such additional benefits as following a healthy diet (41% vs. 32%), exercising (53% vs. 41%) and coming back feeling invigorated (54% vs. 35%). Interestingly, there is evidence that bleisure travel is winning more acceptance. Seventy-nine percent of bleisure travelers are more likely to volunteer for a business trip if they know they can extend their stay, up nine percent from last year’s survey, and fewer people felt the need to downplay their leisure activities to their boss (19% vs. 21%) or their coworkers (22% vs. 24%), compared with a year ago.
Importantly, the majority of bleisure travelers (86% vs. 69% of non-bleisure travelers) believe business travel contributes to their career success and helps them build key relationships they otherwise couldn’t without business travel (81% vs. 73%).
Blending Affects Ground Transportation Options
Ground transportation continues to be a key component of business travel. According to National’s survey, travelers rely on a mix of transportation options, depending on their needs. For example, rental cars are the top choice for getting around the city (78%) and going to business meetings (72%), while ridesharing is used to get to restaurants and bars (68%).Taxis and rideshares are used equally to get to and from the airport (70%).
“Ground transportation is not a one-size-fits-all scenario for business travelers,” says Moore. “Employees are selecting, and corporate travel policies are allowing for, multiple modes of transportation in a single trip – and car rental continues to play an important role in that mix.”
Enabled by Technology
Work-life blending and bleisure are both highly enabled by technology, which has a large role in determining which brands travelers seek out. The survey data shows 90% choose brands that offer them technology tools that improve the business travel experience. And 90% of bleisure travelers perceive connected cars as beneficial for business travel. National, the premier car rental brand for frequent airport travelers, continues to evolve its service offerings for road warriors with innovative initiatives and technology platforms designed to create a best-in-class customer experience. The brand’s award-winning mobile app provides business travelers with a single point of contact to manage all aspects of the rental journey. And National’s website was recently ranked No. 1 in customer satisfaction for ease of navigation, overall appearance, range of services/activities, clarity of information provided and page-load speed.
For in-depth results of the National Car Rental 2020 State of Business Travel Survey, visit www.nationalcar.com.
*The National Car Rental State of Business Travel Survey was conducted November 18-26, 2019, among 995 U.S. frequent business travelers in Lucid’s Federated Sample market research panel of U.S. consumers. At the time of the survey, participants had to have been 25 to 65 years of age, be currently employed or self-employed on a full-time (35+ hours a week) basis and traveled in the past 12 months for business purposes, with a minimum of eight total nights.