Zooming, not flying – bosses say work trips will be ‘far less’ common

Business travel is back on the agenda for Australian professionals but some of the country’s largest employers say many work trips will be replaced with video calls after they embraced the technology during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Holidaymakers have powered the early recovery of Australia’s domestic aviation market and lucrative corporate travellers have started to return to airport lounges as well, with Qantas reporting this month that corporate bookings were back to 65 per cent of pre-COVID levels. However, companies are exercising a lot more discretion when it comes to signing off on work-related travel.

Wesfarmers managing director Rob Scott said executives and managers at his Perth-headquartered conglomerate (which includes Bunnings, Kmart and a large industrials division) had resumed inter-state travel, with there being ”no substitute” for person-to-person contact to build relationships and monitor how the business was operating .

“However, we do expect our previous use of air travel to decrease as a result of the much greater experience and capability we have developed over the past year with other forms of communication… particularly video conferencing,” Mr Scott said.