When it comes to employee traveling and corporate travel, there are plenty of considerations both for employers and employees. There are a lot of details that have to be considered when creating travel policies, and there are guidelines employees have to follow regarding staying on budget and expense reimbursement.
Luckily, tools and technology like expense automation platforms have made many of these details easier to manage. However, there are still some gray areas of corporate travel that employers and employees have to grapple with.
One question that is often on the minds of employers and employees is whether or not sharing rooms with another employee is okay. When you’re traveling for work, is it okay for your boss to ask you to share a room with a colleague? If you’re the employer, is it okay for you to ask that of your employees and if so, what are the considerations you should keep in mind?
Why Is Room-Sharing Beneficial From the Employer Perspective?
From the employer perspective, the key advantage of having employees share rooms is the cost-savings.
When an employer is paying for one room instead of two, then there are going to be more opportunities to send more employees to conferences, training, and other events. Essentially, if an employer has employees share rooms, they can double the number of eligible employees that can go.
Some employers also feel like room-sharing can build a sense of teamwork among employees. Teams can get to know each other better from this perspective, which can help employees better work together, theoretically.
The Downsides of Employees Sharing Room
While there are upsides of having employees share rooms during work trips, there are probably more downsides in many cases.
A lot of employees feel like if they’re made to share a room with their coworker, it’s violating their right to privacy. They feel like they don’t have a fair opportunity to escape from the work environment and have downtime, and there are a lot of interpersonal conflicts that can arise when coworkers bunk together.
It can really frustrate employees to the point that they don’t want to travel for work, or it causes their productivity to suffer.
Are There Legal Violations?
Beyond comfort, convenience and the preference of employees, there may also be potential legal violations that arise if you make employees share a room.
For example, if an employee has a certain medical condition and they have to share a room with a co-worker, they might not have the privacy they need to take care of that condition. That can violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In the Me Too-era, there can be potential problems that arise from room sharing as well. Employees might feel more comfortable and let their guard down, but the person they’re sharing a room with might not feel that same sense of comfort.
It can be awkward but also lead to even bigger problems if co-workers are in the same room while the other is showering, on the phone or doing other things that would usually be considered private.
If you’re an employer and you’re thinking about having employees share a room, even if they’re the same sex, it would be wise to reconsider. There can be other ways to cut costs, or maybe it is just better to have a fewer number of employees attend the event or the conference.
Having employees share a room can not only breed bad feelings during the stay itself. If employees are regularly sharing rooms with their co-workers, it can create ongoing conflict and problems between team members. Rather than becoming closer, it’s much more likely that animosity will build and grow and it will be increasingly hard for these people to work together.
The overall view is that having employees share a room with their co-worker is unnecessarily burdensome, and it can come with even bigger problems than that. It would be a much better idea for employers to think of other ways to cut travel expenses as opposed to room-sharing.
For example, it’s highly likely that an employee would rather spend less in other areas while they’re traveling but get the peace and comfort of being able to return to their own space in the evenings.
With the implementation of modern, comprehensive expense management software this becomes more manageable. Employers who are currently having their employees share a room or are thinking about it should re-evaluate and look at other areas of their travel policy where they can instead make changes.