How Will Business Travel Etiquette Change After the Lockdown?
With the number of UK deaths having now scaled the 10,000 mark, it may be alarming to note that we’re not expected to reach the peak of the pandemic on these shores for another two weeks.
Even at this point at the end of April, there’s no immediate chance of the lockdown being lifted, as the number of deaths and rate of infection will need to decline further before social distancing measures can be relaxed and subsequently removed.
This will continue to impact on air travel and public transport in the UK, and potentially trigger a shift in business travel etiquette that will last long into the future. We’ll explore this below, while asking whether transport firms can cope in the near to medium-term.
How has Travel Changed Since Lockdown?
With well over 130 countries now infected by coronavirus, the demand for public transport and air travel has declined significantly and within a relatively short space of time.
Air travel has been particularly badly affected, with international trips all but banned globally and British Airways having recently furloughed 36,000 staff members.
In terms of public transport, the UK has seen a dramatic decline in public transport usage over the course of the last four weeks, by as much as 75% in some locations.
This trend began after the UK government urged all non-essential workers to operate from home on March 23rd, and while bus and train services remain in place in major cities, they’re scarcely being used to anything like their full capacity.
London has been particularly badly affected, with the number of those travelling from London Bridge to Dartford and on similar routes falling at an incredible rate.
The same trends have been recorded across the globe, particularly in region such as Italy and the States. In Lombardy in Northern Italy, for example, a 47% decrease was observed in public transport in March. Parma, Piacenza and Reggio Emilia saw a 43% decrease during the same period, and countrywide public transport usage declined by half.
What Next for Public and Business Transport Routes?
If we focus on the UK, we begin to see that the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak could last for a considerable period of time, with the Local Government Association (LGA) lobbying for an emergency funding package that can sustain transport services nationwide.
Rail and bus services that deliver people to work on a daily basis need particular financial and infrastructure support, as otherwise there’s a danger that they won’t survive an extended lockdown that lasts into the summer or beyond.
From the sole perspective of business travel, there’s also a question about whether or not Covid-19 will trigger an overall change in the workplace culture.
More specifically, will the fallout from coronavirus leave more people working from home than ever before, and increase the reliance on remote communication tools such as Skype rather than in-person collaboration and meetings.
This would definitely change the shape of business travel both domestically and overseas, both in terms of volumes and the way in which individuals look to get from A to B.