Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has put forward the contention that half of the current/pre-COVID-19 business travel could be done away with soon. Talking on his podcast Bill Gates and Rashida Jones Ask Big Question, Gates proffered that the threshold for organising business travel for companies will be &ldquovery high&rdquo and that employee travel for work will be reduced to a shade of its former self.
An April 2020 report by the Global Business Travel Association, the industry was poised to suffer revenue losses worth £655 billion since March this year.
Ever since COVID-19 shut the world down and forced humans off the skies, the future of travel&mdashespecially air travel&mdashhas been beset with gloom. Aviation all over the world screeched to a halt as lockdowns and travel suspensions were announced all over the world. Despite air bubbles being introduced and renewed efforts made to kickstart travel, air traffic numbers have been paltry and the industry is only slowly picking up.
Active telecommuting has also been enforced in organisations all around the world and from being a stopgap arrangement work-from-home has in no time become a steady alternative to travelling for work. Technology has steadily stepped up in the form of apps and concepts such as working in isolation or digital nomadism have upended the idea of daily commute to work and travelling long-distance for work.
Also, interestingly, Microsoft, among other tech companies, has offered employees the chance to work from home on a permanent basis or utilise a hybrid model involving limited office commute.
With the by-and-large success of video conferencing as the only available medium for most organisations during the peak of infection waves in most countries, the contention that business travel will be slashed drastically is not entirely farfetched. The IATA, too, confirmed this estimation in a study. Limiting corporate travel could help companies conduct cost-cutting without much disadvantage and without having to lay off employees or slash salaries
That would mean both individual travel and large-scale corporate conventions could be gone soon. On the other hand, some, like the CEO of US-based Delta Airlines, Ed Bastian earlier this year expressed belief that while ultra-short trips could be gone, immersive corporate outings were here to stay.