• Seven in 10 respondents agreed a primarily remote work model can make employees feel disconnected
  • 88% agreed meeting in-person is critical for building positive, long-term relationships between employees


NEW YORK, NY – November 30, 2023 – American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT), the world’s leading B2B travel platform, and Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, today released a new report called Investing in Travel to Strengthen Culture and Increase Engagement: A Strategy for Thriving in Disruption. Surveying more than 400 business professionals, seven in 10 respondents agreed a primarily remote work model can make employees feel disconnected from their organization.


Respondents agreed that there are many strong benefits of meeting in-person for internal purposes (among employees, teammates, new hires) including stronger relationships between employees/teams (74%), greater collaboration (60%), stronger organizational culture (55%), greater employee engagement (54%), and increased feeling of inclusion for remote workers/dispersed teams (46%). In today’s hybrid world, travel is often required to make these in-person interactions happen.


Patricia Huska, Chief People Officer, Amex GBT, said: “In today’s world of distributed workforces, business leaders increasingly value travel as an effective way to strengthen bonds between co-workers, spur collaboration, and support company culture. Travel is a sign of commitment; by being there, you’re showing that you care enough about the relationship to be there in person.”


The bond between business travel and a strong workplace

While remote working has many benefits and has been adopted by around 93% of respondents, it can create hurdles to building an office culture and fostering engagement. Business travel can play a key role in bridging this gap, with business respondents identifying meetings, offsites, and workshops as important tools in relationship-building and collaboration. They agreed that it is more effective to conduct these interactions in-person compared to virtual meetings for the purposes of team building (79% vs. 19%), brainstorming (70% vs. 26%), interviewing a candidate for a key appointment (64% vs. 32%), and onboarding/training (58% vs. 31%).


Alex Clemente, Managing Director of Analytic Services at Harvard Business Review, said: “The broad adoption of remote work can create hurdles to building an office culture and fostering engagement, so business travel has become even more critical to bringing colleagues together.”


Business travel’s important role in professional development

Six in 10 respondents also agree that most employees in their organization believe business travel is a key component of their professional development, and 51% agreed leaders in their organization believe the same about employees’ professional development. Perhaps employees want to make up for lost time – 40% believe that fewer in-person internal meetings during the pandemic had a negative impact on their organization’s professional development and training.



The employee interaction gap


Less office-based working and curtailed travel imposed by the pandemic were identified as leading to significant workplace challenges. More than half (53%) of respondents said their organization had collaboration issues because of fewer in-person internal meetings, while 52% experienced decreased employee engagement, and 49% faced communication challenges.

Despite these recognized challenges, respondents indicate travel for internal meetings has not returned to pre-pandemic levels for many organizations, suggesting a potential employee interaction gap. 63% said travel to meet colleagues offsite has decreased compared to pre-pandemic, and 56% said travel to onsite company meetings is lower. However, according to the 2024 Amex GBT Meetings & Events Global Forecast, meetings professionals expect internal meetings to see the strongest growth of all meeting types in 2024.


To find out more about how managed travel drives business growth and supports organizations adapting to hybrid work environments, you can download the full report here.




Notes for editors



Harvard Business Review Analytic Services surveyed 425 members of the Harvard Business Review audience in May 2023. Respondents qualified to complete the survey if they were familiar with their organization’s business travel. 92% of survey respondents are in management levels and above, while 65% work for companies that have 1,000 – 10,000+ employees.


About American Express Global Business Travel

American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) is the world’s leading B2B travel platform, providing software and services to manage travel, expenses, and meetings and events for companies of all sizes. We have built the most valuable marketplace in B2B travel to deliver unrivaled choice, value and experiences. With travel professionals in more than 140 countries, our customers and travelers enjoy the powerful backing of American Express Global Business Travel.

Visit amexglobalbusinesstravel.com for more information about Amex GBT, and follow @amexgbt on LinkedIn and Instagram.

About Harvard Business Review (HBR) Analytic Services

Harvard Business Review Analytic Services is an independent commercial research unit within HBR, conducting research and comparative analysis on important management challenges and emerging business opportunities.