Travel managers are required to deal with remote workers

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Hybrid working is here to stay, but most companies aren’t taking control of managing shared or flexible office spaces in the same way they manage travel. And this will become a costly mistake.

Matthew Parsons

As corporations adapt to hybrid ways of working, there is still confusion about how to best manage collaboration spaces for remote workers.

Only 17 percent of travel managers say the procurement and management of these spaces for staff to meet and work is “fully managed,” according to a Global Business Travel Association report to be released in next.

And 44 percent don’t know how their company provides spaces for collaboration.

The results are surprising considering the large number of hotels catering to remote working trends, from turning rooms into makeshift offices or simply offering more meeting spaces.

Corporate travel agencies are also trying to make life easier, including American Express Global Business Travel through its Workspace tool and Reed & Mackay, which both partnered with dating platform Hubli.

Zero bandwidth

But travel managers are not to blame, argues the report, titled “A New Order: Business Travel, Corporate Procurement and Workplaces in a Post-Pandemic World.”

First, they have bigger problems on their plate, namely the operational challenges associated with returning to travel. The employees are out of practice and have a lot of questions, and flying is not so easy with all the airline delays.

Nearly four in five travel managers said they were spending “more time” or “a lot more time” solving traveler problems, based on the association’s latest June 2022 survey of 223 travel managers across the U.S. Canada and Europe in June.

“It’s a new strategic topic,” said Tobias Ragge, CEO of corporate hotel booking platform HRS, which co-published the report and last week launched a platform called New Work to address the issue at the convention. of the association in San Diego last week. .

“So far, corporations are unclear about how this will evolve. I can’t see any (travel manager) saying, ‘yeah, I’ve got the bandwidth, let’s go on somebody else’s turf’. They’re going to wait for someone to say, ‘I think you guys should look into this,'” he added.

There is also confusion about who the job is, with most companies assigning the task of creating remote work policies to their HR teams. Logistically, it is often seen as a facility management task.

Source: Global Business Travel Association

Get it together

The need for more flexible office space isn’t going anywhere anytime soon because new ways of working are here to stay, the survey found, with two in three (67 percent) travel managers envisioning a hybrid schedule. Some 39 percent of respondents also said their company was hiring more remote workers than before the pandemic.

Travel managers now need to step up, reports suggest.

They are in the best position because of their procurement and sourcing expertise, as they can use their “preferred relationships” with suppliers such as hotels or flexible office space providers including WeWork and IWG.

Right now, many bookings are being made directly with the space provider, rather than through a program.

GBTA remote work survey booking June 2022

Source: Global Business Travel Association

There is also a “natural connection” because office expenses can be related to business travel or meetings if, for example, an employee travels to meet clients and needs to rent a meeting room in the city he is visiting. And with experience in risk management, travel managers can easily create protocols around collaboration.

If travel managers get more control and additional data, then they have a better argument to negotiate bigger discounts with hotel and meeting space suppliers, as they can benefit from higher booking volumes. In the association’s survey, 71 percent of travel managers said they would benefit from consolidated data from hotel, meeting and collaboration reservations.

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