The future of work is here, unfolding before our very eyes. With a lot of employees fully immersed in a remote or hybrid work life that affords them freedom and flexibility, expectations and behaviors surrounding job obligations, including business trips and meetings, are transforming.
For some, the daily commute to city headquarters has turned into a quarterly excursion to an offsite location. Others, taking advantage of flexible work arrangements, are extending their work trip into a longer event with the family tagging along. Some employees working from home are now working from other people’s homes across the world.
As organizations grapple with balancing employees’ evolving desires with their own obligations and objectives, many questions about the travel and meetings programs arise: How should the travel policy be adapted to reflect employees’ new expectations? What kind of duty of care should an organization extend to a traveler during the leisure component of a blended trip? What legal and tax implications are associated with a work-from-anywhere program? What kind of internal gathering would invigorate a disengaged remote workforce? How can we create a safe, more inclusive travel and meeting experience for our diverse employees?
To help answer these questions and more, we are planning a series of Atlas articles devoted to such topics. Today, we’re delving into some enlightening data from a pair of reports our teams have recently compiled that illustrate why organizations are taking a fresh look at how they conduct their travel and meetings programs.
The prevalence of internal meetings
First, let’s look at some intriguing stats from our 2023 Meetings and Events Forecast.
Due to the rise of remote and hybrid work, we are seeing many companies rely on in-person internal meetings to unite a dispersed workforce, improve productivity, create a shared culture, and reduce turnover.
In fact, according to our forecast, internal meetings were the fastest-growing meetings category in 2022 and will be again in 2023. And in North America, where respondents reported the highest percentage of completely remote workforces, internal and small and simple meetings (i.e., programs with fewer than 40 attendees and cost less than $10,000) have surpassed 2019 levels.
Whether or not companies have a program built around travel, meetings, and the remote work experience, leaders are spending time and money getting their teams together.
According to the report, only 32% of internal meetings are expected to be held on the corporate’s property, with 40% being hosted in a different city from the office, 45% including overnight accommodation for attendees, and 27% including international air travel.
Prioritizing well-being and personal time
Next, let’s consider some findings from a poll we conducted in the fall of 2022 with Cultique and the Quorum in which we asked nearly 3,000 employees and just over 2,000 employers in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States about corporate travel policies.
We found that travel policies that address welfare and incorporate personal time into a business trip resonated with workers. Fifty-four percent of employees polled said they would like a travel program that prioritizes their well-being with wellness-related perks provided by the employer (e.g., spa services and meditation app subscriptions). Meanwhile, 60% of respondents said they desire a policy that enables employees to add personal travel to an existing trip. Sixty-one percent said they would like a policy that supports a mix of personal and work travel that also allows for extended stays and family members or significant others to join.
Additionally, our research indicates such policies could have a positive halo effect. Taken as a whole, 75% of employees said these policies would make them feel as though their company cares about them, and 70% said it would add to their overall happiness.
A happier workforce? In this age of disengagement and burnout, it sounds like reason enough to revisit the corporate travel policy.
For insights on operating your travel program in this new age and further resources for travel managers, check out our newly updated #TravelReady site.