Is it unreasonable to tell your boss that you can't travel for work anymore? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
It isn't unreasonable to not want to travel anymore for your job and it is totally OK to say this to your boss, they might say no, but many managers will be OK with this just to keep you. Unfortunately, you may be risking a long-term cost to your career if this is seen as a bad move.
Most roles get redefined over the years and it is natural to minimise things we're not good at or don't want to do and maximise the others, but making people over aware of this can make them feel like there is a loss that needs to be overcome, ideally you would want to make this seem like it is actually good for the company and the better option.
Years ago I had a job that required me to visit several stores where our product was sold and make sure everything was in order. I hated doing this so much, it was a huge amount of time out of the week and I couldn't see any value in what I was doing, however, it was the number one item on my job description. Over time I somehow convinced my boss that it didn't need to be done as often as I was doing it and the part that I was doing could be done by the sales rep when they visited.
This wasn't me going into the office and having a big conversation, this was a conversation over several months, discussing the pros and cons. I also phased this out rather than stopping completely, reducing visits to every two weeks and then sometimes going with a sales rep. In the end it was a slow and very natural transition rather than an overnight change.
A possible response could have been that this was an essential part of my role and if I couldn't do it then I needed to look for another role, and I was very aware that at the same time I had to maximise my impact within the office so that wasn't something that my company would want to lose. I also showed willingness to do other things outside of my role that did involve travelling.
The discussion should include either why this doesn't need to be done or how it can be done differently. It should also come with a possible plan of how to action this with minimum disruption:
Possible good reasons for not travelling
- The travelling isn't producing a good return on investment.
- There is someone you're training up and the travelling would be a good development opportunity for them and ease the burden on you.
- There are other elements of your role that require more of your attention and the travel has become a distraction.
It is OK to mention the cost to you, but you saying you just don't want this to be a part of your role, may be seen as you not being able to do your role anymore.
Possible solutions to minimising the disruption/cost
- Conference calls rather face to face meetings.
- Someone else on the team taking on this responsibility (that would like this responsibility).
- Inviting people to the office more often.
Make sure any suggestion makes sense and you can demonstrate how it might work well.
Possible plans of action
- Gradually reducing meetings and alternating with conference calls.
- Bringing a colleague the next three times you travel so that you can train them up.
Going from travelling twelve times a year to zero times is a big leap. It might make your boss nervous about any plan you have because it sounds dramatic.
Ten years is a long time for a work relationship, you should also have a sense a little of the best way to approach them and the things they want to hear, they don't have to keep you, but after ten years you should have built a relationship that you can broach this subject without too much apprehension.
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