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Business travel is back on the corporate agenda as businesses look to rebuild and migrate the right employees back to the office at the right time when that's the right solution.
Our conversations with travel and fleet managers in recent weeks reveal that employee mobility requirements will remain unpredictable for 2021 and potentially far beyond, as the pandemic and wider economic factors drive uncertainty.
Some holdovers of lockdown are likely to persist. Long-term rentals will be a mainstay for employees needing access to a safe, secure, single-occupant vehicle over a period of time. New factors such as increased working from home, policies enabling employees to choose to work from anywhere and a move away from city centres will continue to impact how, where, when and why people travel.
As organisations look beyond the uncertainty to plan for their long-term mobility needs, there are some commonalities. Perhaps most obviously, as we head towards a decarbonised net zero future transitioning away from the ICE, organisations are looking to optimise vehicle usage to an entirely new level.
Businesses are planning for a future of overall optimised employee mobility, with vehicles deployed more effectively.
They need support to analyse which trips are essential and which aren't, especially those currently taken in a grey fleet vehicle. They are having to understand how to keep people mobile in a way that maintains both personal safety and CO2 sustainability.
The key is helping organisations to re-think an approach to business mobility that also reprogrammes employee behaviours and encourages a more efficient and scheduled approach to how employees and goods move from A to B.
For example, we've remodelled supply with oil companies to reduce the over-reliance on one-way hire as workers come off shift, phasing the process so that a smaller number of cars are required. This can only happen with open and honest dialogue, helping to find a scalable plan that aligns with both parties' motives.
At a time when consumer demand has changed and as manufacturers pivot towards EV-only manufacture, continuous planning is essential to ensure the right vehicles are available for businesses at the right time. The distribution of rental services becomes critical as many workforces move to a home working environment.
As access to mobility remains central to business continuity, this is driving new working relationships where we interact with resource planners to support safe employee transport.
To take one example, when face-to-face meetings resume, one possible approach is that they may be concentrated during one week every month. What are the options for ground transportation in that event?
Businesses facing a new way of working also face a new way of travelling for work. It will require a flexible and adaptable strategy open to continuous change, planned ahead of time to ensure the right level of availability.
Adrian Bewley is assistant vice president of business mobility for Europe at Enterprise Rent-A-Car