On April 07, the Financial Times published an article that read […] “Predictions of the demise of business travel following the rise of video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams were off the mark. Microsoft founder Bill Gates predicted that more than 50 per cent of business travel would disappear, and even some senior airline industry bosses thought a significant chunk was gone forever. But in reality, executives have been quick to abandon video calls and get back on the road. Like many changes that seemed permanent during the pandemic, old habits have steadily returned.” […]
Other sources of data show a different picture and predict that business travel will not return to pre-pandemic levels. Roland Berger expects that globally, the number of trips will fall in the coming years, mainly as a result of teleconferencing. They estimate a 28% drop in intended trips per person compared to pre-Covid levels, particularly affecting long-distance travel.
Large and well-known companies have adopted clear policies towards reducing business travel. To name a few, PwC, whose air travel accounts for 68% of their total emissions, will halve its travel emissions by 2030. Their strategy involves both reducing the number of journeys made by employees and looking for less carbon-intensive ways of working. Global infrastructure consulting firm Arcadis will specifically halve its air travel emissions by 2025 – and maintained a -53% reduction in 2022 -, with a clearly defined policy of “virtual first”. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will reduce its travel emissions by a quarter in 2025 – and remained at a -78% reduction in 2022 -, using digital tools to limit travel.
Examples like this abound. They show that businesses can operate with less corporate flying, whilst being more respectful of the planet.
And if executives are hurrying back to airports to fly across the world for a business meeting, then they are reading the room wrong. A survey by the Travel Smart campaign showed that employees are urging CEOs to set business travel reduction targets and minimize companies’ impact on the planet.
All in all, the focus should not be about the death or not of business travel. We should instead focus – like many companies already – on the shift to purposeful travel, with an emphasis on maintaining the immediate cut in emissions, as the latest IPCC report so clearly states.
Read the original Financial Times piece