On a recent business trip to San Diego, Kurt Barrett took his family to Sea World.
Between the banquet dinners and panel discussions on agricultural policy, he also took his five-month-old daughter swimming for the first time in the hotel pool. Another day, they strolled through the humid botanical gardens in Balboa Park.
“It was like being at home. I got done with work, then enjoyed spending time with my wife and child,” said Barrett, a 30-year-old general manager for a rice distributor in Williams, Calif.
“Work is very important, but there has to be a balance,” Barrett said.
Travelling for work once meant sacrificing precious time away from home. But as the workplace becomes more flexible about letting employees juggle their duties with family life, people like Barrett are finding it easier to bring their spouse and kids wherever their jobs may take them.
According to the National Business Travel Association, 62 per cent of US business travellers said they add a leisure component to at least one business trip per year. Among those travellers, two-thirds say they bring a family member or friend with them.
Pushing the trend is the growing number of single parents, women in executive ranks, two-income families, and those simply looking to save a buck by turning company-paid trips into working vacations.
People are having kids later in life too, meaning they’re more likely to be comfortable enough in their careers to blend work and family.
That blurring between office and family life represents a sea change from a generation or two ago, when children were told bothering their parents with a phone call at work could get mom or dad in trouble.
“That’s not the case today. There’s a realization that work has encroached so much on private time, that there needs to be some give and take,” said Nancy Ahlrichs, president of EOC Strategies, a human resources consulting firm in Indianapolis.