The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the face of business. After successive lockdowns and remote working by necessity, the world is opening back up, teams are reconvening and travel is returning. But what does business travel look like after a pandemic? And what of the future of business travel?
ONS data indicates that 85% of people working from home were supportive of a hybrid arrangement, wherein work is split between their home and their office.
This is a substantial statistic, which has grand implications for the commuting habits of the working population. With daily travel only necessary some days of the week, there may be a drop in the uptake of season tickets for public transport – and with employees saving money on their commute, as well as the benefits home-working provides, their morale may increase.
Our Relationship with Domestic Travel
In general, our relationship with travelling domestically is destined for change. Though some people are concerned about the germ safety of public transport solutions, the concern seems to largely be rooted in mask-wearing habits of fellow passengers. Public transport services have advertised their cleaning initiatives well, ensuring that commuters and business travellers can have confidence in the safety of their carriage.
Though remote working and video conference calls have been popularised by necessity in recent months, there’s no sign of this significantly decreasing the number of domestic business trips made – though ecological concerns may tilt in the favour of public transport, resulting in (for example) less drivers on the A1 and more making use of the train line to Cambridge.
Less International Trips
Conversely, the number of people travelling abroad will continue to decrease. The increase in paperwork required to leave the UK following Brexit is one major reason, as well as the increased costs incurred for COVID testing and quarantines. As a result, more international business is likely to be done digitally, reducing the number of business flights taken by executives.
Even after the worst of the pandemic in 2020, travel can be a source of anxiety for many workers – whether they were previously shielding, or have vulnerable family members they cannot afford to accidentally pass COVID onto.
One of the larger cultural changes with regard to travel, especially on public transport, will be one of collective responsibility. Mindfully keeping distance, ensuring mask use and regular hand sanitation will inevitably become part of the fabric of travel, and behaviours that will be difficult to unlearn even after the last of the virus disappears.