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Is business travel the new office culture?

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One of the most prominent shifts to society from the pandemic was in the way that we work. Many of us went from commuting to the office five days per week, to working almost exclusively remotely. A report by the Future Consumer Index[1] showed that many people were happy with that, with 30% wanting more flexible working conditions to remain, and 31% expecting a better work-life balance as a result of fewer days in the office.  

Most people did want some form of office culture to return, so many companies are adapting to the new normal by offering a hybrid remote work and office-based set-up. During the pandemic, many people took the opportunity to move away from their place they work – typically leaving cities for more rural locations. Many companies accepted that a large number of jobs could be effectively carried out remotely, and teams could connect just as easily virtually.

While work-life balance has surely improved for many as a result of these shifts, this has been to the detriment of office culture in some ways. A recent Financial Times[2] article interviewed several leading companies, finding that most workers were coming into the office just two days per week. Many companies are now finding their offices have become empty, soulless places and are struggling to recreate the buzz they may have enjoyed in pre-pandemic times. 

One possible solution to a dwindling office culture is travel, but what could that look like and how would it impact travel trends?

Travel to corporate events

With fewer office-based meetings and activities, many companies are hosting more frequent events outside of the office to create or maintain a corporate culture. Those events are likely to create new travel demand, lead to a rise in group bookings, and see surges in travel to non-traditional destinations. For example, if an office team rarely manages to get together in the office, the company might host business away days in destinations that motivate employees to join. This could lead to changes in the services venues offer – for example, hotels offering entertainment packages, deals and discounts to large groups, or transport companies taking on larger vehicles to accommodate groups.

Bleisure” travel and longer trips

The lines between business and leisure travel have never been more blurred, and travelers in a post-Covid world are now more likely to take longer trips. This is due to a number of reasons. First, with endless new complications to deal with, travel has become more of a hassle. It’s also become more of a risk for employers, who typically have a heightened duty of care for employee wellbeing during travel. Many travelers are choosing to combine what once may have been several short business trips into one longer trip – and companies need to bear this in mind when considering how to help keep their travelers safe. Travelers are also now more environmentally-conscious, and live in a world where the cost of living is rising sharply. Therefore, tagging a holiday onto a business trip has suddenly become even more appealing. 

Making up for lost time

Throughout the pandemic, colleagues hardly saw each other face-to-face at all, and travel was all but ground to a halt. As restrictions continue to ease and apprehension around travel subsides, this is leading to a rise in internal and client business trips. People who may not have seen each other for years are now making more of an effort to meet with teams, bosses, clients in person, which could result in an influx of trips.

Working from new locations

In an age where many of us can “work from anywhere”, some people are taking this literally. There’s been a rise in employees taking extended trips to exotic locations, carrying out their work from places like the Caribbean or similar. Many people who work for global companies are also seizing the opportunity to work from other company locations, experiencing new surroundings and creating a new type of office culture, with tighter relationships between global teams. Offering this level of flexibility to employees can be a huge draw in attracting and retaining talent, as well as motivating teams to do their best work.

These are just some of the ways travel is facilitating a new type of office culture. We can’t wait to see where these trends are heading. 

If you’re organizing a trip for yourself or your colleagues, take the

[1] EY Future Consumer Index, November 2021. https://www.ey.com/en_gl/consumer-products-retail/as-consumers-move-on-stay-close  

[2] Financial Times, April 2022 https://www.ft.com/content/5ed49b8a-6c69-418c-9a26-7f43a99b1d1f

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