With remote work widespread, employers are rethinking the role of travel in their business strategies.
This article was first published on February 2, 2024, by HR Daily Advisor, a sibling publication to HealthLeaders.
The landscape of business travel has undergone a significant transformation in the wake of widespread remote work. As highlighted by Elizabeth Bennett in an article for BBC Worklife, “Remote work isn’t killing business travel—it’s transforming it,” the traditional purpose and nature of business trips are evolving to meet the new demands of a remote-work world.”
New Reasons for Business Travel
Bennett notes that while the days of in-person client meetings may be waning, employees are embarking on corporate trips for new reasons. Patricia Huska, chief people officer at American Express Global Business Travel, observes, “In the pandemic, many people relocated, which has shifted the demographics of organizations.” This shift has increased the need for face-to-face interaction, making business travel vital for maintaining connections within dispersed teams.
Business Travel Spending on the Rise
An August 2023 report from the Global Business Travel Association predicts that business travel spending will surpass its pre-pandemic level of $1.4 trillion in 2024. This resurgence, however, comes with a change in the demographic of travelers and the purpose of their trips. Business travel is now more about team building, bonding, and strategic planning off-sites, rather than traditional client meetings.
Rethinking the Role of Travel
For employers, this shift means rethinking the role of travel in their business strategies. The focus is shifting towards facilitating team cohesion and motivation, especially for teams that work remotely most of the time. Employers must consider the benefits of bringing remote teams together for periodic in-person interactions, which can enhance collaboration and foster a stronger company culture.
Additionally, the changing nature of business travel has implications for budgeting and policymaking. Companies may need to allocate resources differently, focusing on group travel for team-building exercises rather than individual client visits. This shift also requires a reevaluation of travel policies to accommodate the unique needs of a remote workforce.
Adapting to the New Normal
As remote work continues to shape the business landscape, the purpose and nature of business travel are evolving. Employers must adapt to these changes, recognizing the value of in-person interactions for remote teams and redefining their travel policies to support this new era of corporate travel. This evolution presents an opportunity for companies to strengthen team dynamics and enhance overall business performance in a remote-work environment.
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