Advice column: my travel requirements are proving much more onerous than I thought on taking the job
I have joined a new firm where travel was confirmed as being important from time to time. Unfortunately I seem to be travelling down south most weeks for meetings and am having to stay over at least a couple of nights each time. I appreciate that travel can be important where the business is spread across a certain geographical area, but perhaps naively I had thought that due to Skype and emails it would not be so frequent or intense. I feel exhausted both physically and mentally and am feeling guilty at being away from my young child; although my wife does most of the childcare I also want to play my part too. I want to do well at the firm as I am the main breadwinner and have a hefty mortgage, but I’m not sure how many more air miles I can take.
In today’s increasingly global community travel is sometimes unfortunately still a necessary element of a job. However, you are right in assuming that digital forms of communication, including Skype and email, should assist in at least curbing some of the air miles.
I suggest that you review your travel over the previous four weeks and assess which of the meetings could as easily have been done by phone or email or indeed Skype. I appreciate that in the early stages of a job, sometimes there is a need for physical presence at the office or in meetings to allow the formation of effective relationships with colleagues or third parties, but as time progresses you should be able to assess more easily whether your input can be more effectively delivered through digital forms of communication rather than you having to be physically present at the meetings.
More and more firms are also increasingly expecting their employees to be able to cut down on any unnecessary travel, as it is recognised that travel could be cutting into productivity and is expensive. It is therefore important that you consider taking the initiative to assess your travel yourself and to seek to rely on other forms of communication where possible and more cost effective. Once you have carried out an assessment over a certain period of time, speak to your line manager and confirm that you would be more than happy to travel where required but that you could also provide greater efficiency by, say, only travelling down south once a month. Also consider whether other colleagues may be able to come up to your office if a one-to-one meeting is required.
Travel may seem glamorous and exciting, but, as you have experienced, regular travel can impact on your personal life too, and no enticement to clock up air miles to get onto the bronze, silver or gold customer flying packages is worth that.
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