The COVID pandemic has changed the dynamics of business forever.
Video conferencing has seen world-wide adoption and accelerated technology advancement, and virtual group meetings are now an acceptable form of engagement - especially when in a highly creative event environment.
But it is still an artificial way to conduct business - I mean, no one stares directly at your face for the duration of a meeting. Do they? And I miss those casual side comments in a rest break, a privately raised eyebrow which communicates so much, and the shared bonhomie of getting together.
Maybe it is an age thing, but for me meeting in person better helps build trust and teamwork, and is always a more effective way of solving important problems.
I think we will continue to see a balanced blend of working virtually and meeting in-person - as this will enable us to gain maximum efficiency and effectiveness - especially as a way of optimizing event attendance and helping to match sustainability targets. But, as I head off for my first European meeting for over two years, I am pleased to see that I am not alone - a recent research report by tClara says business leaders are more than ready to re-embrace face-to-face meetings.
Also, like those interviewed for the research, I think the most critical travel-related goals should be around achieving more successful trips and protecting each traveler’s health.
Of course we should always assess whether a trip is actually necessary, and 43% of leaders in the research said that that judging the trip’s importance is the best guideline for approving travel when budgets are tight. Interestingly, only 30% say prioritizing customer-facing trips over internal trips is best -engaging with our colleagues is vital following the past two years.
For some people, though, the pandemic has forever changed their personal appetite for business travel, but for corporations I believe it has never been a more critical device to define, differentiate, and deliver success.
Working for one of the world’s largest business travel and meetings companies I accept that I may be slightly biased in my views, so don’t just take my word for it - why not read the report, and see what business leaders are really thinking.