the onset of the forced work-from-home era, many of us at CitizenM kept asking
ourselves the same question: How is Zoom
going to impact our business?
heavily on corporate travel and bringing people together in person. Are we
structurally impaired? Or are we back to normal once a vaccine is available?
For us to understand the future of corporate travel, we decided to first
understand what the future of work looks like. This dragged us down a long,
multi-month rabbit hole of remote work.
thrust into the mainstream, the pre-pandemic remote work world was a glorified
sub-Reddit community of heretics. Think Bitcoin circa 2010. We went all-in
trying to learn about this work philosophy. We started following the old-schoolers of
remote work on social media, listening to podcasts, reading books and speaking
to many of the influential players.
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countless conversations with business leaders about the topic, we have
conviction that most knowledge-based companies will adopt varying degrees of
remote in the next few years. Top reasons stated are as follows:
- Talent war – Offering a remote job is one of the most
strategic recruitment advantages now. Telling a candidate they get back two to
four hours of daily commute time is a real edge, as is increasing the search
from a 30-mile radius to anywhere in the world. If tech is already leading the
talent war and quickly adopting remote policies, what does that mean for Wall
Street and other Fortune 500 companies to hire the smartest?
- Cost savings – Real estate is often the second highest
expense, after payroll, at most companies - big and small. The opportunity to
eliminate or downsize this cost category, without impacting productivity, is a
major shareholder win. Alternatively, companies will use remote working to
reevaluate their burn rate, shifting expensive offices into funding to hire
more talent, who will in turn develop more product, bring in more revenue or land
- Environmental, social and governance priorities –
Sustainability and diversity have become very high priorities at many
companies, as well as for the investors that back them. The ability to reduce the CO2 footprint by reducing daily car trips is one that many management teams and
shareholders care deeply about. Furthermore, smart companies are using remote
to fix diversity pipeline issues by looking at BIPOC candidate pools outside of
their own backyards.
- Employee health – Remote work enables scheduling flexibility,
which in turn allows better balance with family and physical health. Walk your
daughter to school. Go out for a jog between meetings. Make your own lunch.
This also alleviates micro-stress moments that lead to a poor mental state at
the office - packed subway car, office politics, fabricating busy work. Happier
employees stay longer and are better.
- Increased productivity – Study after study has
shown remote employees are working longer hours and speaking more often. Meetings
are starting and ending on time. Documentation and use of project management
tools are on the rise, with fewer communication gaps as teams adopt more
asynchronous working. For larger organizations, remote work also reigns in
managers of certain age groups who can be highly disorganized or guilty of
role for hotels
appreciate the impact on corporate travel, one would have to assume a rise in
remote work will result in a rise in distributed teams. When you can work from home,
you will want to work from anywhere. To appreciate the role hotels will play, you also have to understand the areas remote work falls short. These are
new use cases for travel since co-located companies historically did not
consume hotels in this manner.
- Relationships and bond-building – We are social beings, and most of us crave socialization. Working well together often requires some
level of trust, empathy and humanizing elements – difficult to create in
videoconference alone. Ask any 100%-remote company and even they will tell you that when a team is not working well together, or there is friction, they encourage
meeting in person. Teams perform best not only when there is a shared sense of
belonging and alignment, but also mutual respect and trust.
- Innovation and strategy – A favorite argument
among office-first advocates is that you can never replace those serendipitous
moments that lead to some next big idea. Steve Jobs always said the magic
happened during spontaneous, random meetings at the office. The truth of the
matter is that technology, some of which he helped create, has bridged the more
routine water cooler talk. That said, more intense innovation will likely be
sparked remotely and individually but taken to the next level on a whiteboard
in person and together.
- Passive knowledge transfers – Among managers, the
biggest concern in developing newer or younger employees has been the
information that’s picked up through office osmosis. Overhearing a
conversation. Observing how someone works – who they go to, what they say.
Meetups of remote workers in the same area, with no agenda other than working
alongside one another, is a way a remote team can replace this.
- High-stakes meetings – Meeting up with an
investor for drinks. Having dinner with a banker. Closing a big sales account.
All of these are conversations that are better in person. There is too much
trust and too many nonverbal cues at risk to do over teleconference. As
founders and management teams live farther away from traditional hubs, the need
to travel in will pick up.
- Conferences and retreats revamped – As teams spend less
time together face-to-face, the moments when you do get together become more
valuable. Corporate social events like excursions and retreats are no longer a
chore on top of the countless hours you spend with colleagues. Nor are
conferences where most of your time is spent with external parties. These all
now serve as more important moments of building culture.
certain people romanticized the pre-COVID days of very transient, sometimes
arbitrary, frequent business travel, a return to that life seems uncertain.
Going forward, it appears those types of trips will now be met with strong
will replace that is the impact of remote work - connecting teams that were
once in the same city, now hours apart. With these new behavioral patterns, we
believe hotels serve a central role in the future of work - more analogous to
office than purely accommodations. Hotel operators need to now not only understand
what is important in-stay, but also study workplace strategy and fill
the analog voids of a highly digitized world.