While holiday makers are embracing the slow travel movement, the business community is being left in their wake. But is it an oxymoron to talk about go-slow business travel? It may not be feasible to take a slow boat to your next business meeting but there are other ways to embrace the movement, like eating in locally-owned restaurants, carbon offsetting and being a responsible traveler.

Carl Honoré, author of ‘In Praise of Slowness’, challenges the fast-paced environment of today’s business travelers. “Not only do I think modern business travel is compatible with the slow travel idea, it is essential,” Honoré says. “Remember that a lot of business travel is about taking the time to meet face-to-face with a partner or a rival. That is a slow act in itself. You have decided you need to get to know someone beyond the superficial and that it is not enough to fire off a one-line, half-baked email.”

Honoré says that there is already evidence of the slow movement in corporate business, from wellness divisions, quiet rooms in offices and massages for employees. Companies are offering workers more opportunities to do volunteer work and take sabbaticals, as well as the chance to trade pay for more time off. Some employers even insist that workers do not check emails at the weekends. “This was unthinkable seven or eights years ago,” Honoré says.

“Even if you don’t care about people’s happiness or health as a CEO, even if you just care about productivity, it makes sense,” Honoré says. “So much about modern business is about building relationships. The idea that lunches are for wimps and you have to be on the phone 24-7 is a false economy. Even in the corporate world you need to relax. Business people are probably the most resistant to the idea of slowing down but they have got to get over their prejudice. If we lose our slowness, that will start to spell burnout.”

Research commissioned on behalf of technology experts Hewlett Packard has revealed that workers who over-juggle lose their edge. In a series of tests carried out by Dr Glenn Wilson, Reader in Personality at the Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, an average worker’s functioning IQ fell ten points when distracted by ringing telephones and incoming emails.

“Companies who give their employees tools to work round the clock in the hope that they will be more productive need to understand the potential risks and encourage a more balanced and appropriate way of working,” explains Wilson.

Slow business travel may not just be good for life-work balance and bottom line. It may also improve relations between countries and cultures. In the United States, the non-profit group Business for Diplomatic Action (BDA) wants to create civilian ambassadors in its business travelers.

The guide also suggests business travelers speak more slowly, saying “a fast talker can be seen as aggressive and threatening.”

Try Hot tips for how business travelers can slow down on the road.

– Unplug

Find moments in the day to switch off all electronic devices. Use the time to sleep, get a massage or go for a walk.

Don’t over-schedule

Plan to do fewer things. That is also true for your free time.

– Get a slow hobby

It could be reading, yoga, knitting, meditation or sketching. Instead of reaching for the TV or your laptop, have a slow ritual.

Check your speedometer

Throughout the day, stop and pause to see if you are doing something too quickly. For example, after finishing a report, reset your speedometer.

– Don’t forget human contact

That can be hard for business travelers because you are often alone but try to chat to hotel staff or go to a local yoga studio.

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derived from an article written by By Michelle Jana Chan, LONDON, England



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