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Managing Business Travel for the Future

Andrew Thompson Senior Manager, PwC United Kingdom 23/06/21

As borders begin to reopen across the world, global companies must prepare for an increase in business travel once more. Much has changed in the last 15 months, however, and pre-pandemic systems and controls may no longer be fit for purpose in the new environment in which we find ourselves operating. 

For some, the opening of borders will be welcomed with open arms and employees who have been geographically displaced will be keen to return to their host countries or otherwise begin to travel more regularly once again.

For others, there will be an increased appetite for flexible working with time split between the home country and other required working locations. Workforces have been geographically disconnected for significant periods of time, with working from home (wherever that may be) representing the norm, or at least a significant part of working life, for many over recent months. Employees have seen that they can operate effectively whilst working remotely, leading to an increase in employee driven requests for flexible working across locations. When and how to accommodate these requests will be a policy decision but, in any event, the return of international business travel in various forms is an inevitability. 

Whilst the COVID19 pandemic has meant that many of us have been forced to remain in one place, the regulatory world has continued to move apace. Brexit, immigration reform, social security legislation, Posted Worker regulations, as well as country specific quarantine and COVID safety provisions: companies will find themselves having to deal with an increasing number of complexities as their employees step back out into the international market. This is on top of the tax and legal considerations which have always existed. In addition, each trip cannot solely be considered in isolation, but rather the cumulative impact of business trips and at what point these trigger additional employer obligations must be monitored.

These complexities can mean that managing the risks associated with business travel is an increasingly demanding and time consuming affair. With the right tools, however, this can represent a significant opportunity for companies to harness the power of automation. Smart use of technology can allow a business to decrease the burden of managing global compliance, whilst minimising exposure to financial and reputational risk.The human workforce can be freed to focus where their time can provide maximum return on investment.

Pre-travel assessments to identify compliance requirements, data collection through integration with existing systems, cleansing, standardization and storage of data, posted worker and social security applications, case management and escalation: these are just some of the examples of key tasks which can be automated in order to maximise compliance and minimise risk. 

Simultaneously, embracing the use of technology can enhance the stakeholder experience, freeing up global mobility and HR teams to focus on strategic priorities and enhancing the business travel experience for the employees in question. 

To discuss how technology can assist your business in managing travel in the new world, contact uk_gms_intelligent_automation@pwc.com

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Andrew Thompson

Andrew Thompson

Senior Manager, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7483 400244

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