- Seven in ten respondents agree that a predominantly remote work model can make employees feel disconnected
- 88% of respondents say in-person meetings are essential to building positive, lasting employee relationships
NEW YORK, NY – November 30, 2023 – American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT), a global leader in business travel platforms, and Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, today released a new report, Investing in Travel to Strengthen Culture and Increase Engagement: A Strategy for Thriving in Disruption. According to a survey of more than 400 professionals, seven in ten respondents agree that a primarily remote work model can leave employees feeling disconnected from their organization.
Respondents recognize that in-person internal meetings (between employees, teammates, new hires) have many benefits, including strengthening relationships between employees/teams (74%), better collaboration (60%), a culture of a stronger business (55%), increased employee engagement (54%), and a better sense of inclusion for remote workers/dispersed teams (46%). In today’s hybrid world, travel is often necessary to make these in-person interactions possible.
Patricia Huska, Chief Human Resources Officer, Amex GBT, said: “In today’s world of dispersed workforces, business leaders are increasingly viewing travel as an effective way to strengthen employee connections, foster collaboration and strengthening corporate culture. Travel is a sign of commitment; your presence shows that you care enough about the relationship to be there in person.”
The connection between business travel and a stimulating workplace
Although remote work has many benefits and was adopted by approximately 93% of respondents, it can be a barrier to building company culture and driving engagement. Business travel can play a key role in bridging this gap. Indeed, companies surveyed view meetings, offsite events and workshops as important tools for strengthening relationships and collaboration. They agree that it is more effective to organize in-person interactions rather than virtual meetings in the following cases: team building (79% vs. 19%), brainstorming (70% vs. 26% %), interviewing a candidate for a key position (64% versus 32%) and onboarding/training (58% versus 31%).
Alex Clemente, managing director of analytics at Harvard Business Review, said: “The widespread adoption of remote work can make it difficult to establish an office culture and drive engagement, so much so that business travel plays an even more important role in bringing employees together.
Business travel plays an important role in professional development
Six in ten respondents also believe that most employees in their organization consider business travel a key part of their professional development, and 51% of leaders in their organization agree with this when it comes to employee professional development. Employees may be looking to make up for lost time – 40% believe that fewer in-person internal meetings during the pandemic have had a negative impact on professional development and training within their organization.
Lack of interaction between employees
The reduction in office working time and travel imposed by the pandemic has led to significant challenges in the workplace. More than half (53%) of respondents said their organization was having collaboration issues due to fewer in-person internal meetings, while 52% saw a decline in employee engagement and 49 % faced communication problems.
Although these challenges have been identified, respondents indicate that travel for internal meetings has not returned to pre-pandemic levels in many organizations, suggesting a potential lack of interaction between employees. For 63% of respondents, the number of trips to meet with employees off-site has decreased compared to the pre-pandemic period, and for 56% of them, the number of trips to participate in on-site company meetings is weaker. However, according to Amex GBT’s 2024 Meeting and Event Planning Industry Forecast , meeting planning professionals believe that internal meetings will see the highest growth of all meeting types in 2024. .
If you would like to learn more about how mentored travel drives business growth and helps organizations adapt to hybrid work environments, download the full report here .
Notes to editors
Harvard Business Review Analytic Services surveyed 425 Harvard Business Review readers in May 2023. To participate in the survey, respondents were required to have knowledge of their organization’s business travel. 92% of people who responded to the survey were senior executives, while 65% worked for companies with between 1,000 and 10,000 employees.
About American Express Global Business Travel
American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) is the world’s leading B2B travel platform. The company provides travel, expense, meeting and event management software and services for businesses of all sizes. We created the highest value marketplace in B2B travel to deliver unrivaled choice, value and experiences. Spread across more than 140 countries, our professional and traveling customers benefit from the powerful support of American Express Global Business Travel.
About Harvard Business Review (HBR) Analytic Services
Harvard Business Review Analytic Services is an independent business research unit within HBR that conducts studies and benchmarking on key management challenges and emerging business opportunities.