TravelLite might not be the most recognizable of the six flexibility types, but it's still vastly underutilized. Our research showed that 56 percent of employees need access to TravelLite but only 17 percent have access, meaning the supply is less than a third of the demand. And the demand is even higher for certain demographics: 62 percent of men, 60 percent of millennials, and 70 percent of millennial men need TravelLite, for example.
Essentially, TravelLite just means minimal business travel: a maximum of four days a month spent traveling for work purposes. This flex type can be crucial for caregivers who need to stay close to home to take care of children, family members, or other dependents. But it can also be crucial for keeping the workforce well.
In a recent [Harvard Business Review study](https://hbr.org/2018/05/just-how-bad-is-business-travel-for-your-health-heres-the-data) of tens of thousands of employee medical records, researchers found "a strong correlation between the frequency of business travel and a wide range of physical and behavioral health risks." Workers who spent 14 or more nights traveling per month, for instance, had high body mass index scores compared to those who spent less time traveling; and they were also significantly more likely to report trouble sleeping, alcohol dependence, habitual smoking, anxiety symptoms, sedentary lifestyles, and depression. And those who spent 21 or more nights traveling per month were 92 percent more likely to be obese than the six-or-fewer-nights set and more likely to have higher diastolic blood pressure.
As researcher Andrew Rundle noted for HBR, these health risks affect employers' bottom lines, too: "Physical, behavioral and mental health issues such as obesity, hypertension, smoking, depression, anxiety, poor sleep, and alcohol dependence can create costs for employers through higher medical claims, reduced employee productivity and performance, absenteeism, presenteeism, and short-term disability."
Luckily, the connectivity of the Internet Age is reducing the need for business travel. Thanks to recent technological developments and programs like Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom (just to name a few), colleagues thousands of miles apart can talk face-to-face. And pretty soon, with Microsoft Research's "Holoportation" technology, we’ll be able to literally beam a 3D image of ourselves into the office from a remote location. These tech breakthroughs are making it easier for employees to do work they would have otherwise had to travel to do, and they are making it easier for employers to meet the TravelLite requirement. In addition to boosting life-work compatibility, TravelLite is just another way flexibility keeps employees healthy, productive, and content.