Business travel was thriving…
And businesses saw opportunities in the ever growing globalisation. Millions of people were travelling around to conclude contracts, to network and to invest in their personal growth and development, resulting in a yearly incremental growth in the (business) travel industry. Business travel had become a habit for many… Until COVID-19 showed up and countries had to close their borders and shut down businesses from one day to another. Were we and our businesses ready to handle this crisis? And even more importantly, are we sufficiently prepared for the future?
When faced with the highly complex impact that the COVID-19 situation brought, most organisations focused and successfully dealt with getting people home and safe. That being pretty much complete, it could be time for most companies to “prepare” for the next phase. At a bare minimum, organisations need to get ready for business travel to return as an option to enable business i.e. connecting the organisation’s confidence, traveller’s confidence and government permission through a framework enabled by policy, service, data and safety & wellbeing of employees.
“Will there be an impact on business travel post COVID-19”
This is probably a question that crossed your mind the past few weeks. Now that the world is slowly coming out of lockdown, we see more and more companies looking at how they will work in the near, mid-term and long-term future. While 2020 will be the year that spikes the use of virtual communication tools, digital upskilling of the workforce and disrupting our way of doing business and (personally) interacting with each other, COVID-19 accelerated this. Everyone was forced to be agile towards this abrupt change in our way of working.
With the European borders gradually opening again, there could be different approaches taken by different organisations on internationally mobile employees. At a more global level and linking remote working to international employment, “virtual assignments” could be part of the future mobility strategy of many multinational companies. However, this requires assessing its feasibility . We will talk about virtual assignments in detail in our next publication.
Irrespective of the approach, post pandemic business travel will need to be managed with a layer of extra care. Together with ensuring safety of their “frequent flyer” employees, this could be a moment for employers to get prepared and mitigate the multiple risks linked to Short Term Business Travel. Making sure the right policy, procedures, tax and compliance implications are mapped and prioritised. And, most importantly, create a framework that is focused on the safety and wellbeing of business travellers. Solutions can appear (and combined) in many formats from software and applications to keep track and communicate more efficiently with your mobile workforce to a dashboard that provides a clear overview. Options are numerous, but the question remains which recipe safeguards your people best…
Want to get more insights on your organisations’ future business travel, feel free to contact your regular PwC Global Mobility advisor or reach out to Sandrine Schaumont, Nic Boydens, Liesbeth Decourt or Sanjita Chetri Samal.