Before Covid, many (if not most) corporations would hold meetings in person on a regular basis to build and maintain important relationships, host strategy sessions, and discuss any number of topics. Client “issues” were often dealt with by jumping on a plane for a face-to-face visit. But, in 2021, managed corporate travel in the U.S. plummeted by 71%, as the pandemic forced millions of people to work from home.
As people emerged from lockdown, many business travelers were highly motivated to get back on the road, but travel managers and HR departments had observed that the lack of travel wasn’t necessarily preventing workers from performing their jobs – so many began focusing on life in this “new normal,” while getting a unique opportunity to rethink how, when, why, and even if travel was required to address other pressing issues, like climate change, sustainability and employee well-being.
While there will always be times when travel is required to solve a problem, deciding whether to meet face-to-face or just jump on a Zoom call has now become a little more complicated. The following are three of the main reasons:
Sustainability: Cutting carbon emissions and operating more sustainably became a higher priority for many businesses during Covid, and travel is deeply connected to this important issue. This can mean opting for rail over air, direct over non-direct flights, introducing carbon budgets and offsetting carbon emissions.
Employee well-being: Despite the reasons behind it, many people came to enjoy the change in work-life balance enforced by Covid restrictions. They could more easily prioritize “family time,” and it increased flexibility in their work schedule. Travel managers began to rethink travel from a duty of care and health and well-being perspective, and many became hyper-aware of its impact on an employee’s mental and physical well-being. Solutions have included bundling multiple meetings into one trip, overnight stays for employees traveling for more than half of a given day, etc.
Talent retention: Talent attraction and retention have proven tricky in many sectors, resulting in what is being called “the great resignation.” Offering the option of a flexible, on-demand schedule across different regions has helped in this regard.
Meeting these challenges head on is essential to the health of businesses in the lingering age of Covid. Tackling them head on and embracing the pause in travel due to a global pandemic has allowed corporations to save money, improve employee well-being and create communities that actively seek to be more sustainable.
Source: Elite Business