A survey of Canadian, European and US-based travel managers and procurement leaders showed that 54% of respondents say business travel has rebounded faster than expected, while 77% report they are spending more time troubleshooting traveler issues. The survey was conducted by HRS, the corporate travel and payment technology platform; and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). Seventy-four percent of respondents were from the US and Canada. Among the findings: 

•   Two-thirds (67%) believe that once all their offices are open, hybrid work scenarios will dominate. Only 9% anticipate that all their colleagues will return to the office full time.
•    Two in five (40%) report that their companies have reduced their office space.
•    Nearly two in five (39%) say their company is hiring more remote workers than they did prior to the pandemic.

•    Almost four of five travel managers (79%) say remote working policies boost employee morale, while 72% believe these policies help with talent recruitment.

These trends have given rise to a new topic in many procurement departments, according to the research: the sourcing of co-working spaces for staff to meet. Results from the survey showcase multiple challenges for corporations as they seek to manage the costs of all workspaces in a consolidated manner. Most telling:

•    Only 17% say the procurement and management of co-working spaces is fully managed.

•    A “stunning” 44% “don’t know” how their company procures co-working spaces.

•    More than seven in ten (71%) say they would gain from having the consolidated data from hotel, meeting and co-working bookings, with 67% noting it would be easier for employees to use validated corporate payment tools via a single booking source.

•    Nearly three-quarters (74%) say it would be easier for employees to book both hotels and co-working spaces at the same time in the same shopping/booking technology.

Tobias Ragge, CEO of HRS, said the intersection of employee workplace trends and travel management is “quite frenetic these days.” These realities, he said, spur opportunities for forward-thinking finance, human resource, procurement and travel leaders. Technologies addressing these trends, said Ragge, are being launched and refined, with friction-reducing automation improving the everyday experience for employees. He said managers need to ask how quickly they are examining which solution works best for their workforce while also maximizing operational budgets. This is the issue, said Ragge, “that we see more frequently in our corporate engagements this year.”

Suzanne Neufang, CEO of GBTA, said travel management teams now have a broader range of issues to address beyond negotiating supplier deals. The C-suite, she said, is more likely to promote the digitizing of more processes, implementation of sustainability initiatives and steps to enhance satisfaction and security. Leaders, said Neufang, “are adjusting and taking steps to manage programs accordingly.”