A recent survey of 425 members of the Harvard Business Review audience by American Express Global Business Travel found several strong indicators of the value of face-to-face internal meetings, at a time when just seven percent of respondents’ companies have returned to a full-time office-based work environment:
• 81 percent of responding managers say that in-person interactions foster greater levels of innovation within their organization, while 70 percent say in-person meetings are the best way to facilitate brainstorming.
• 88 percent say face-to-face meetings are critical for ensuring positive long-term relationships between internal colleagues and a healthy company culture.
• 71 percent say their organization receives tangible business value from travel that brings employees together.
On the other hand, just 33 percent of respondents say that their firm’s travel budget supports such meetings “to a great extent” now and into the foreseeable future.
Alex Clemente, managing director of analytic services at Harvard Business Review, says “this report demonstrates the dangers in not maintaining face-to-face relationships with employees, business partners, and customers. Collaboration, innovation, and relationships suffer.”
Colleen Kearney, global corporate travel leader at aerospace and defense company RTX, says group business travel is more important now than before the Covid pandemic—and that executives must hear this from their managers. When group business travel is sufficiently funded, she notes, “people are more invested and able to create more opportunities and come up with new ideas because they’re creating personal connections” that result in long-term organizational benefit.
The full report from AmEx GBT and Harvard Business Review can be found here.