Travel sector explores hybrid post-Covid working arrangements

Travel and tourism firms need to find a “happy medium” for staff as workforces prepare to return to shops and offices after the pandemic.

That was the message from panellists during a session about workplace trends in the online International Women In Travel and Tourism Forum 2021.

Julia Lo Bue-Said, Advantage Travel Partnership chief executive, said continuing to work from home was difficult for many of her agency members.

“Some businesses cannot be flexible, our members have to open their stores,” she told panel host Lucy Huxley, the editor-in-chief of Travel Weekly.

“We can work remotely but we are missing out on that human interaction.

“I do not think we are as collaborative or creative in this environment all the time. We need to find a happy medium.”

Natalie Kidd, Intrepid Travel’s chief people and purpose officer, agreed that maintaining flexibility for staff was important but highlighted the need for face-to-face connections.

“Screen fatigue is a real thing,” she said.

“The energy that you can generate by being together is really important.”

She said having staff in the office was particularly important for junior employees as it helped them to “absorb the business and how it behaves”.

“It is a matter of getting a balance; hybrid is the way to go,” she added.

John Bevan, divisional senior vice-president of dnata – whose UK brands include Gold Medal, Travel Republic and Travelbag – said the pandemic will change the way firms work for ever, especially with flexible working, working from home and virtual communications.

“Before, you all had to be in a meeting room; people will be able to dial in more,” he said.

He also highlighted the growing concerns and support for mental health issues.

“We have become more aware of our teams and our feelings,” he added.

“I hope that this stays and we keep a look out for people who are struggling, mentally or in general, and reach out.”

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