The past year has seen personal and professional livelihoods change dramatically, with a wider move towards working from home. Furthermore, widespread travel restrictions are continuing to change the way millions live their lives.
Considering the events of the past year, the question remains whether or not employers will change their approach to business travel and accommodation. So, what things may be different going forward and will employers need to consider as the world settles into the ‘new normal’?
The primary concern of all employers is undoubtedly going to be the safety and wellbeing of employees. Alongside the long-term impacts of the past year, both in terms of mental and physical health, business travel may be seen as an unnecessary risk – especially with the virus-secure alternative of video conferencing. For some businesses, however, travel will always be essential for operations.
Air travel could be key to the business travel sectors’ bounce back, as airport testing schemes and advanced filtration systems onboard should keep transmission to a minimum. Developing testing policies and procedures, as mastered by countries such as South Korea, will be vital in boosting the industry.
Employers will not only have to consider travel routes and methods, but accommodation too. Business travel has often been about cost cutting, but employee safety will undoubtedly become the priority. Limiting exposure will remain a prime directive for years to come, certainly in the business world. So, for example, employers may make changes like swapping hotels for serviced apartments in London to improve security for employees.
Video conferencing is here for the foreseeable, but business travel and ‘normal’ working routines are a significant economic contributor. While video conferencing platforms continue to boom, the hospitality sector will certainly be hoping for a return to pre-pandemic ways. But does this greater reliance on services such as Zoom and Teams mean that business travel will slowly become redundant in the coming years? Chances are that businesses will be weighing up the risks and rewards of video conferencing against physical business travel – leading to more selective and specialised business travel.
When will business travel restart?
Uncertainty remains surrounding when the world of business travel will open up again. With the hope of numerous vaccines and more secure test and tracing schemes, employers may begin to feel more comfortable to send employees on domestic and international business trips this year. However, barriers remain over quarantine rules in different countries upon international travel, which may see business travel postponed until commercially viable and practical to do so.