Question: “I despise traveling for work every week and I want to make it stop! My project leadership has informed that as long as the role seems like a good fit, I’m out of luck. What’s the best way to make things happen without burning bridges?”
~ Sara, Philadelphia, PA
Kristine’s Answer: “Hi Sara, great question! It’s a tough one too, especially if your firm is one where extensive travel is the norm. If the majority tells you travel is simply part of the lifestyle and you need to decide if it’s for you than you may in fact have a choice to make about whether your firm is good fit. In the meantime, here are 3 strategies you could try.
Strategy 1 – Ask to pilot a modified travel schedule. The first thing you can try is to simply reduce the amount of time you are at the client site. I’ll be honest, this can be tricky if you have a needy client that likes you there or “old school” leadership that just expects you to suck it up. However, if you start with baby steps, it might be possible to steal some more time at home. If you’re burned out, or better yet, have a significant personal issue that warrants you spend more time at home “for a temporary period of time” this may be a good way to get them comfortable enough to try it out. Maybe you start by asking if you can go home 1 day early every other week, then work your way up to more as they get more comfortable and see there is no negative impact to the project. With this strategy, the 2 most important things will be to 1) make sure you go out of your way to keep them updated on what you’re doing when you’re remote (don’t let them miss you) and 2) link the reasoning to some impact to the project (e.g., cost-savings or productivity) or your personal well-being.
Strategy 2 – Look for logical opportunities to exit. Will you become compensatory at some point? (Compensatory is a tax status that typically kicks in once you’ve been on a project, working in that location more than 10 days per month, for 12 months.) It’s a big deal (and often a great reason to roll off) because of the financial impact to the client and the project. Have you outgrown the role? Especially if you are up for promotion soon, the experience you gain will be critical. Really evaluate if the role is too junior, and if so, talk with your career mentor about a strategy to find one that is a better fit for your goals. Can you work yourself out of your role? The more you can put on auto-pilot, or delegate to someone junior, the better. It will be harder to justify the need for you to be there to the client. Bottom line — be looking for opportunities and focus your conversation with your project leadership on that, not the fact that you are just sick of traveling.
Strategy 3 – Staff yourself locally on your next role. If all else fails and you have to stick it out, use your time now wisely to make sure there you have a good opportunity locally already lined up when this project is finished. That means, you need to start working your local network – NOW! Talk with your career advisor/mentor, and HR rep about your desire to work locally so they can be on the lookout for opportunities. Get to know the key players in your local office and on the big engagements in your city. Leave no stone unturned! Even if you just meet with them for a quick coffee chat on a Friday, make sure they get to know you, know your strengths, and know of your desire to get on a project in town. And don’t forget to follow-up with them periodically so you don’t fall off their radar.”
All the best,
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