Lloyd’s every 3rd week travel ban – FT’s Lucy Kellaway on babies with expense accounts

The Rapid Traveler spent the week in Miami attending a half-day company meeting luxuriously spread over five days. He had plenty of tasks outside the meeting to accomplish, but nonetheless marveled at corporate excess and returned to FT super-columnist Lucy Kellaway’s recent piece If you want adult behavior, treat people like babies (subscription or google search required).

Lloyd’s instituted a travel ban the third week of every month to control costs, “a hare-brained cost-cutting scheme that treats people like babies.”

Yet Lloyds claims that this scheme has been a great triumph. Since it was put in place six months ago, 70,000 fewer trips have been taken. Each month the bank saves £1.5m in costs, and presumably much more in terms of management time. And far from travel being correspondingly higher in the other three weeks, it is even falling in those too.

The numbers do not add up as that averages to £128 per trip, about the price of a sandwich and coffee in London.

Numbers aside, she argues that people travel way more than justified by business need, but claim every trip to be ‘essential’ when companies allow employees to police themselves, so that an arbitrary rule is the most effective approach. And a productivity boost.

An every third week rule primarily defeats two types of travelers:

  1. Every week on the road at the slightest justification road warrior
  2. Travel at the slightest justification but not determined enough to invent justifications for other weeks

That adds up to 70,000 trips in half a year at a 46,000-employee company but it would be fascinating to see how many employees really contributed to that total.

So, road warriors, is business travel a habit that you cannot drop? Would you, as she suggests, be happier, more productive, and have a more harmonious family if your corporate overlords started treating you like a baby? The Rapid Traveler does not want to test it out in personal experience, but welcomes readers to share.

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  • Mike

    I do think many ppl take advantage of it. Also many business travel can now be done over the net. This will save companies money.

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