May 23, 2022
 

Blurred lines

New ways of working are changing the shape of business travel. Three experts share their views

Remote working will continue and offices will transform into ‘collaboration hubs’. At the same time, employees will increasingly yearn for in-person experiences and more physical interaction. These growing trends are blurring the definition of the term ‘business travel’.

“This changes the shape of business travel, where we will increasingly see trips for the purpose of gathering remote employees for innovation, collaboration or engagement purposes but less ‘classical’ travel for one-to-one meetings,” explains Mike Orchard at Festive Road.

“As hybrid and remote working grow, we will increasingly question what a business trip is”

His colleague, Katie Virtue, Festive Road US Senior Consultant, expands on this trend. “As hybrid and remote working grow, we will increasingly question what a business trip is,” she predicts.

“It’s no longer a trip away from the office. For remote employees, it might be a trip to the office or it could be a team meeting in a destination where no offices are located but it presents the right environment for their purpose. As where people work is more fluid, we need to move past the traditional view of a trip.”

She also identifies a possible knock-on trend: local travel.

“With more employees working in hybrid or remote settings, local and commuter travel is emerging as its own subset. This could be an employee meeting a client at a local coffee shop or workspace.

“Companies need to assess if this falls under the definition of business travel. One client has taken this a step further and says it is looking at owning all ‘movement’ by employees any time they leave their established working base.”

“Remote working is here to stay and will generate new business travel patterns”

The new working patterns are not just a passing phase, observes Peter Gerstle, Head of Travel Products at Collinson.

“Working from a fixed office, the daily commute, the regimented working hours – all these things will become a thing of the past. Not for all, but for many of us, especially white-collar knowledge workers.

“Remote working is here to stay and will generate new business travel patterns.

“Additionally, staff might decide – or be allowed – to be ‘digital nomads’ for a period of time, maybe located nearer to an important client and thus reducing the number of long-haul trips needed. And that dreadful word ‘bleisure’ will now finally come into its own as there will be a more fluid delineation of work and play.

“This all, in turn, has an impact on flight fare rules. ‘Saturday Night Stay’ is being rendered obsolete as a means to maximise fares from cash-rich business travellers – an increasingly-rare breed.”

For more on business travel trends, see our Trends Special