June 13, 2024

Survey: In-person meetings create strong workplace culture

The majority of employees (74%) agree that meeting in person creates stronger relationships between employees and teams.

Other benefits include greater collaboration (60%), stronger organisational culture (55%), greater employee engagement (54%), and increased feeling of inclusion for remote workers/dispersed teams (46%).  

These are some of the findings from a new American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) report called Investing in Travel to Strengthen Culture and Increase Engagement: A Strategy for Thriving in Disruption. It polled over 400 business professionals, with seven in 10 respondents agreeing a primarily remote work model can make employees feel disconnected from their organisation. 

While remote working has many benefits and has been adopted by around 93% of respondents, it can create hurdles to building an office culture and fostering engagement.

Business travel can play a key role in bridging this gap, with respondents agreeing that it is more effective to meet in-person compared to virtually for team building (79% vs. 19%), brainstorming (70% vs. 26%), interviewing a candidate for a key appointment (64% vs. 32%), and onboarding/training (58% vs. 31%).

Despite this, respondents indicated that travel for internal meetings has not returned to pre-pandemic levels, creating a potential employee interaction gap. 63% said travel to meet colleagues offsite has decreased compared to pre-pandemic, and 56% said travel to onsite company meetings is lower. 

Less office-based working and curtailed travel post- pandemic are leading to workplace challenges, including decreased employee engagement. More than half of business travel sector workers surveyed (52%) say engagement is down, while 53% said their organisation has collaboration issues because of fewer in-person internal meetings, and 49% face communication challenges.

Six in 10 respondents also agree that most employees in their organisation believe business travel is a key component of their professional development, and 51% agreed leaders in their organisation believe the same about employees’ professional development. 40% believe that fewer in-person internal meetings during the pandemic had a negative impact on their organisation’s professional development and training.

Patricia Huska, Chief People Officer, Amex GBT, said: “In today’s world of distributed workforces, business leaders increasingly value travel as an effective way to strengthen bonds between co-workers, spur collaboration, and support company culture. 

“Travel is a sign of commitment; by being there, you’re showing that you care enough about the relationship to be there in person.”