Location-independent work is here to stay, and it’s expanding. A return to pre-pandemic levels of traditional business travel is not going to occur. A third of business travellers (34%) now have a work-remotely schedule and 35% of them will travel more and longer as a result, according to the Winter 2022 Global Rescue Travel Safety and Sentiment survey. At the same time, 75% of business travellers have already travelled domestically for business, 27% internationally, according to the survey.
“Business travel has changed permanently but that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be less of it, just that it will be different,” said Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue, the leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services.
Richards says the bar for travelling to a meeting has been raised forever. “Virtual substitution for in-person meetings is here to stay. The pandemic has demonstrated that productive work can be done from almost anywhere and that is leading to people taking advantage of that circumstance,” he said.
Bleisure travel — a portmanteau of business and leisure that refers to a growing trend of business travellers tacking leisure days onto a work-related trip — is also destined to last, particularly among younger employees without children.
Nine-out-of-10 (93.42%) travellers are “less or much less” concerned about travel since the height of the pandemic. Growing traveller confidence will drive more remote work and bleisure behaviour.
“The prospect of working from anywhere under more flexible attendance policies is going to give many staffers the ability to live and work in places they couldn’t before. This will be good for the economies of many semi-rural communities, but it could be troublesome for cities,” Richards said.
The biggest challenge in this evolving environment will be the ability to manage a location-independent workforce. “Managing the remote workforce will be a new challenge as unprecedented numbers of employees log in from the beach, mountains and other places where they’ve chosen to live,” he said.
Employers need to make certain their duty of care legal requirements are comprehensively detailed.
“Company leaders like CEOs, chief security officers, travel managers and human resources directors are accountable for the development and oversight of policies, programs and logistics that protect travelling staff. They carry a duty of care responsibility to their people, to take care of them and avoid exposing them to any unnecessary or undue risk,” Richards said.