A more sustainable view.

Do you remember the view at 35,000 feet? Even though we were racing from one meeting to another at no less than 500 miles per hour, there was something very peaceful about the world outside the window. Having spent the last 12+ months in the grips of a global pandemic, it has been a long time since many of us have set foot on a plane, and while the view from 35,000 feet may look the same, the context has changed. Sustainability, well-being and agile working are now embedded in our everyday conversations and are driving strategy for businesses across the globe.

Viruses don’t respect borders, but neither do ideas.

The last year has demonstrated how borderless the world really is and the importance therefore of shared responsibility. Viruses and pollution may have spread at a terrifying rate, across countries and continents, but so have ideas, momentum and a necessary vision of a more sustainable future. We’re at a juncture, where connecting with clients and colleagues across the globe must be done in a way that is sustainable; for people’s health, mental and physical, for the planet, and for the financial success of today’s businesses.

The value of ‘Knowhow’.

With 2019 levels of business travel expenditure out pacing GDP, Harvard Growth Lab questioned why anyone would ‘move brains expensively, if you can move bytes more cheaply’. The conclusion? Knowhow. It doesn’t exist in books, or on the internet and you don’t intentionally share it over a video call. It gets transferred, from person to person. The value that you take back to your organisation from spending time with a person in their office and immersed in their culture is significant.

A sustainable engagement strategy.

The conversations that we’re having with corporates in every location, from New York to Shanghai and London to Geneva, all reflect that. They are centred around carbon reduction, global visibility and keeping talent engaged, motivated and most of all, well. As we look to return to travel, there will be more in-depth conversations on whether it’s necessary; whether a Zoom call wouldn’t suffice. From conversations amongst The Business Travel Advisory’s network, it’s clear that there’s an important place for digital on the engagement spectrum, and it’s to enhance engagement overall, not replace the physical meeting. Why?

A few pointers.

If you’re looking at how you build a sustainable engagement strategy for 2021, in line with the new view point from 35,000 feet, here are a few pointers:
  • Start with a meetings strategy, not a travel strategy. The purpose of your meeting, the required output and return is what matters most. Then look at the where, when, and how.
  • Know that your people care, and they want to help drive the sustainability agenda. Corporate level carbon reporting isn’t enough. Take a look at how we helped one business to support their travellers on the journey to greater accountability.
  • Remember that the vaccines may provide a way out from the pandemic, but that other consequences will hit later. One Chief Medical Officer described a tidal wave of risk approaching in the form of heart disease and mental-health crises. This must be factored in to your corporate well-being strategy and wrapped into your policies for engagement and travel.
  • Don’t separate cost, well-being and environmental benefit. They are three parts of the same equation, the sum of which is a truly sustainable business strategy, which travel folds neatly into.

Is sustainability on your agenda?

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