While it may seem counter-intuitive to suggest that an event that had such a drastic, negative effect on an industry, will eventually become a great boon, boosting volume moving forward…it’s quite likely that may be the case. Two factors contribute to this point of view…
Factor #1: Telecommuting
The following telecommuting/remote work statistics were compiled by Global Workplace Analytics, a research-based consulting firm that has been helping employers optimize workplace strategies for more than fifteen years.
- 69% of U.S. employees worked remotely at the peak of the pandemic.
- 62% of employees say they could work remotely.
- 82% of U.S. employees want to work remotely at least once a week when the pandemic is over. On average, they would prefer to do so half of the time. Only 8% do not want to work from home at any frequency. Nineteen percent said they would like to telecommute full-time. The balance would prefer to work a hybrid-remote schedule.
- If they were not allowed to work remotely after the pandemic: 54% of U.S. employees say they would stay with their employer but be less willing to go the extra mile and 46% would look for another job.
- Prior to the pandemic, the majority of office space utilization surveys showed people were not at their desks 50-60% of the time because a certain percentage of staff was on leave, at meetings or traveling.
So, how many office employees are going in to work these days?
Kastle Systems, a property technology company and the nation’s largest managed security provider, estimates the national average office occupancy is only up to 43%, based on employee access log-ins. In actuality, over half of the office space in use currently might be eliminated without a negative effect on the business tenant.
Based on conservative assumptions, Global Workplace Analytics estimates a typical U.S. employer could save an average of $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year. The savings are the result of increased productivity, lower real estate costs, reduced absenteeism and turnover, and better risk management and disaster preparedness.
In total, Global Workplace Analytics predicts U.S. companies could save $500 billion a year with half-time remote work.
As employers attempt to figure out what a post-pandemic office will look like, executives have a second factor to consider as a result of the pandemic…
Factor #2: Traveling to Meet Clients and Prospects
According to the GBTA (Global Business Travel Association) corporate travel is “surging forward, international travel is returning, and despite new challenges, industry recovery is entrenched,” according to their latest Business Travel Recovery Poll, done in March. Booking levels and travel spending continue to increase, and there are high levels of optimism and employee willingness to travel for business.
A majority (88%) of suppliers and travel management companies (TMCs) report their bookings have increased in the prior month. This is much higher than the share that said the same in February (45%). (Keep in mind, we’re in mid-May, two months later.) On average, travel buyers say their company’s travel bookings are currently at 56% of the pre-pandemic level, up 22 points from February.
Four in 10 (41%) GBTA stakeholders say their company’s return to the office directly correlates to the return to business travel. Over half (55%) of respondents say their company has implemented a permanent back-to-office policy. One-quarter (23%) report their employees will be full-time in-office, and over half (52%) will be hybrid, with working days spent between office and home. Two-plus years into the pandemic, 26% report their company has not yet announced a permanent policy.
Nine in 10 (94%) GBTA buyers and procurement professionals feel their employees are “willing” or “very willing” to travel for business in the current environment, up from 82% in the February poll.
After two years of being restricted from meeting with clients and prospects, the travel marketplace appears ready to get back out on the road. And while many corporate travelers will undoubtedly change the way they conduct themselves during business trips, post-pandemic, there is no reason to assume future levels won’t meet and exceed 2019 stats. In fact, with a $500 billion savings windfall from reduced office overhead available, we have to think having more funds available for business travel is just what the doctor ordered.