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Business travel and work week length changes in the pandemic

Bloomberg survey of 45 major global companies found that 84% expect to scale back business travel after the pandemic.

According to consulting firm AlixPartners, reasons for business travel are broken down across the following categories:

  • 30% customer support
  • 25% sales and business development
  • 20% trade shows and conferences
  • 20% internal meetings and training
  • 5% commuting

Airline executives are optimistic that the biggest cuts will come from internal meetings rather than trips supporting customer relationships.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian told analysts last week that corporate travel has held steady, but “it’s probably about 90-days plus … for that next leg up that we were expecting to see.” 

  • Bastian said corporate travel won’t climb to 60% of pre-pandemic levels by this month, as it initially predicted. (It’s near 40% now).

While I’m at it, Zoom is adding live translation to its product, plus expanding whiteboarding into a fully featured app.     The company is also working on a hot desking solution.      Microsoft, too, with new features – standout mode, where a presenter can put their video in front of their PowerPoint slides.  

As I’m so focused on the changes to the environment, let’s revisit that study reported earlier by Microsoft – the one that showed a decrease in cross company communication.    In there is another datapoint – the work week at Microsoft has increased by about 10%.    The researchers actually say this doesn’t necessarily mean employees are working more hours within that longer work week, just the span of time in which work could have occurred, including breaks.

Why do we care?

That insight into where business travel cuts would happen spoke to me – less about internal meetings, and more about business development.  I’ll buy that… although observe that’s from airline executives, not CFOs for the customers.    Also note their timelines – a quarter or so more for sure of impact.  Consider that a minimum length of time.

That Microsoft research around remote experiences speaks to the opportunity for consulting to help customers.     Culture and management styles more than technology alone will make the difference.    There will be continued product enhancements to try and take advantage of the lack of clarity.  That’s a trend you can rely on.      Dig into that research.