As corporations begin to return to some semblance of normalcy, the business world is moving through new phases, each designed to keep profits high and losses to a minimum. As the pandemic wanes and return-to-normal operations inch closer to reality, companies around the globe are preparing for a return to business travel. The following are phases organizations must work through during this process:
Reaction: Responding to Immediate Challenges
When it comes to the new realities of travel and expense (T&E) management, there has been a global shift in corporate business travel needs, costs and effects. North American industries in sectors that rely on corporate travel had to get behind new laws and regulations to implement a pause in their existing travel policies and pivot their rules to adapt to global restrictions. Now, as business travel resumes, corporations will need to react and respond to the related challenges of reestablishing critical corporate travel frameworks.
Resilience: Managing Through Uncertainty
Financial executives saw the opportunity to reforecast budgets that would reflect the changes mentioned above, but this is also where the urgency to act now takes effect: The new benchmark for T&E spending budgets set by finance for 2021, using 2020 data, will not be sustainable long-term.
Recovery: Resetting and Identifying Opportunities
There will be a swift shift when it comes to easing up on strict protocols, reopening industries and pursuing vaccination efforts. Here’s what to expect and prepare for:
- Reduced travel restrictions: With workplaces reopening, corporate travel and travel spending will spike.
- Return to office work will mean a fast increase in travel spending.
- A younger and more mobile-friendly workforce will enter the workplace, raising digitization expectations, high engagement, digital work community platforms and instant direct dialogues.
- A new adaptation of business travel will raise the need for policy compliance to maintain new budgeting efforts that reduce T&E significantly.
- Interpersonal connectivity: The need to have physical contact and its positive psychological impact will increase corporate travel.
What that means for T&E management and everyone who reports on it:
- An influx of noncompliance and uncontrolled overspend due to travelers having to get reacquainted with existing policies or new revisions; a new mass onboarding of staff unfamiliar with policies.
- Monitoring and controlling overspending at a faster pace as return to the workplace increases.
- An increase in data quantity over a short amount of time with more expenses on transportation, paperless purchases and e-payments, food delivery services, shared office space fees and so on.
- Reassessing duty-of-care strategies and ways to effectively implement them.
New Reality: Adapting to a New World
It’s now crucial to put into place effective reporting of expenditures that will reduce noncompliance and redirect overspending into your bottom line and be aligned with new strategies and goals.