Remote work may be part of your business recovery plan for the immediate future, but how will it impact your employees in the long run? Despite its apparent benefits of increasing safety and flexibility, 69 percent of employees report feeling burnt out as a result of working from home.This pandemic-induced “Zoom fatigue” has stretched beyond the everyday workplace. It likely has also disrupted the routines and productivity of your top talent, many of whom rely on travel and in-person interactions to fuel sales and meet goals.
Even with the challenges of uncertainty ahead that we addressed in last week’s article, it is important for business leaders to prioritize proactively shaping workplace culture to avoid employee burnout. Here’s how people and culture are intertwined with your recovery plan and the steps you can take to protect your people as they return to both the workplace and the road.
The Strain of Remote Work
Just like its effect on company resources and business strategies, the pandemic has stretched people and culture thin on a widespread scale.
According to a Vistage study conducted shortly after the pandemic started, more than 90 percent of leaders implemented some form of remote work policy to counter the crisis. These policies rolled out at the same time as most employees experienced lockdown measures that limited their movements and free time, effectively negating the flexibility and work-life balance so frequently associated with remote work.
For workplaces predicated on face-to-face interactions, a shift in culture of such scale can lead to a decrease in engagement and a lack of motivation. This is even more so the case for organizations with multiple office locations kept connected by robust travel schedules. These lowered levels of employee engagement present an obstacle to driving business growth. In fact, highly engaged teams show a 21 percent greater profitability whereas disengaged employees cost companies up to $550 billion a year.
Employees Want to Travel Again
To counteract this drag on engagement, business leaders can use the time-tested power of travel.
For example, think of your employees who most frequently traveled prior to the pandemic. The shift to video calls and remote work may have affected them in a variety ways, including decreased productivity levels and diminished morale. A recent survey from IHG supports these findings, with nearly 40 percent of employees stating they were significantly demotivated in 2020 due to the lack of business travel.
If you haven’t already, work with your trusted travel management partner to create a tiered plan for use in determining which employees should return to face-to-face meetings and the steps needed along the way. Meetings can be separated into different categories and ranked accordingly, such as sales calls, customer onboarding, or team strategy sessions. Additionally, you can learn from successful remote-first companies, which often augment their virtual environments with regularly scheduled in-person meetings to foster a sense of purpose and to increase productivity.
Keeping Travelers Safe
Employees want to resume face-to-face meetings, but they first need to feel safe in order to travel confidently.
Start by working with a travel management company (TMC) to update your travel policy in a way that is clear and consistent. Your updated policy should strengthen previous duty of care standards and outline the new safety protocol expected of travelers, such as PPE needs and COVID-19 testing requirements.
While masks and testing will provide enhanced safety, the biggest factor for boosting traveler confidence is ensuring that employees on the road have access to timely information and tools for communication. This is where an experienced TMC partner can provide you with a comprehensive solution, saving you both time and money.
From sharing real-time travel intelligence alerts to providing you with 24/7 traveler tracking capabilities, a TMC offers an important layer of protection for your employees on the road and gives your organization deeper insight into the threats ahead that may disrupt your business.
Find Your Solution
At Direct Travel, our team draws on more than 40 years of experience in the industry to help keep your people safe and connected. We know that one-size-fits-all solutions are not the most effective approach for rebuilding your travel program, especially as businesses return to key markets at different speeds and with varied objectives.
Direct Travel can help you find a solution that streamlines your travel and safely brings your people together again. Chat with our team to learn more about the role your corporate travel program can play in your recovery plan for the year ahead.