Most travel buyers expect hybrid work scenarios will be the dominant set-up in the year ahead, but most also said their companies do not yet have a handle on managing co-working spaces, according to a survey of 187 travel managers by the Global Business Travel Association and HRS.
Two-thirds of the respondents—74 percent of whom were based in the U.S. and Canada and the remainder in Europe—said hybrid work set-ups would continue even when their offices were completely open. Less than 10 percent said they expected all employees to return to the office full-time.
Many companies are planning for longer-term hybrid set-ups. About 40 percent of respondents said their companies have cut back on office space, and close to an equal percentage said their companies are hiring more remote workers than they did prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the survey also indicated the companies are facing challenges in managing these new set-ups. Less than 20 percent said their companies fully manage the procurement of co-working spaces, and 44 percent said they didn’t know the procurement procedure for them at their company. More than 70 percent said they wanted data from co-working spaces consolidated with hotel and meeting bookings and that they would like for co-working spaces to be bookable from the same technology as hotels.
“The intersection of employee workplace trends and travel management is quite frenetic these days,” HRS CEO Tobias Ragge said in a statement. “How quickly are you examining which solution best works for your workforce while also maximizing your operational budgets? This is the issue we see more frequently in our corporate engagements this year.”
At the same time, travel managers report their work related to travel is getting more complicated, according to the survey. More than half said business travel is returning more quickly than they expected than at the beginning of the year, and 77 percent said they are spending more time troubleshooting traveler issues. More than half also said they are spending more time analyzing data than prior to the pandemic.
“Travel management teams now have a broader range of issues to address beyond negotiating supplier deals,” GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang said in a statement. “The C-suite is more likely to promote the digitizing of more processes, implementation of sustainability initiatives, and steps to enhance satisfaction and security. Leaders are adjusting and taking steps to manage programs accordingly.”
Travel managers, meanwhile, also see an upside to the new set-ups. Nearly 80 percent of respondents said remote working policies boost morale, and 72 percent said they help with talent recruitment.
The survey was fielded June 15-29, and it included both GBTA members and non-members, according to the organization.
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