London North Eastern Railway (LNER) has said 89 per cent of office workers believe face-to-face meetings will become the norm again by the end of the year.
The new feedback from regular business travellers forms part of a new report, Railway to Recovery, that is being launched at Business Travel Show Europe, London.
To help navigate the new world of business travel, LNER worked with experts Thread & Bloom and Nina&Pinta to identify the key challenges that lie ahead for businesses, such as hybrid working and bringing teams together face to face.
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LNER found 46 per cent admitted that when it comes to the pandemic, it was harder to maintain existing relationships and 37 per cent believe a lack of face-to-face meetings would negatively impact business going forward.
Research contained in the report also shows that environmental and productivity benefits are major reasons why business travellers choose to travel by rail. More than half (53 per cent) cited working on the move as one of the reasons they prefer rail and 49 per cent said it was down to environmental reasons – recognising that business travel can be both productive and environmentally sustainable.
David Horne, Managing Director at LNER, said: “Our conversations with businesses have found that face to face meetings are more important than ever as people continue to reconnect and recover after a challenging couple of years. Whilst virtual platforms have grown enormously, our research has found that people want to get back out and travel for business, and to reap the benefits of meeting clients and colleagues in person.
“To help businesses navigate the complexities of the current landscape, at LNER we’ve identified the drivers of business travel, the pressures employers are facing and the new needs of the business traveller.
“We hope our findings will help inform and advance the travel policies of businesses
throughout the UK, as they look to grow in a sustainable and responsible way.”
The report follows the latest publication on rail usage from the Office for Rail and Road (ORR) that found that for the fourth consecutive quarter LNER has seen the most customers return to its services when compared with pre-pandemic levels than any other operator, with encouraging signs in both leisure and business travel.