The statement described above also ties back to the reduction of business travel. A few interviewees stated that most people are still being cautious and do not feel safe traveling. Most of the meetings have been held locally. According to one interviewee, people are even leaving the city centre to move to the suburbs as they do not need to travel to the offices as frequently as before COVID-19. A few interviewees also stated that sustainability such as carbon footprint has also become an important factor when deciding on business travel. In addition, a few interviewees believe that COVID-19 has created a more efficient mindset in the sense that the workforce is more conscious of the need to travel compared to the output that is needed. The following statement illustrates this: We used to go overseas for some interventions pre COVID-19. I would suggest for the next 18 months we will not be doing that. We will be staying in the UK, UK participants, UK venues. In the UK, people thought business travel would reduce 1/3 of what it was pre COVID-19. Business travel was 100%, it would literally 60 to 70% of that would fall away (Informant #5). 4.2.2 Changing motives to meet According to a few interviewees, the main reason for organising an external meeting is to escape their own fixed environment. People are tired of working at the office or working at home all the time. It is primarily about being away from the workplace; people are in an environment where they can learn and completely focus on the meeting, rather than continually thinking about mobile phone ringing’s, emails , etc. However, some interviewees stated that the pandemic has made people more hesitant about whether an (external) in-person meeting is necessary as it mainly depends on the nature of the program, the people, the intervention, money, or the relevance of the meeting. The decisions will be driven on, is there a need to meet up face-to-face as opposed to what the venue has to offer. It will be driven by a business or human need in opposition to driven by venue availability. Currently, it is case by case as opposed to before, people are more conservative about planning a meeting. The following statement illustrates this: I think COVID-19 gave us benefits as well. I guess to renew the focus on how we do stuff, how we engage as human beings sometimes as well. Do you need to travel? Do you need to get in the car? Do you need to fly? Can you not do the same thing in your office in the UK, not overseas or just using Google (Informant #5). As discussed in paragraph 4.2.1, Decentralisation of the work environment, offices will have a different purpose as opposed to the pre COVID-19 period. Their main function will not be as a working space, rather a meeting space where people can socialise and collaborate. In-person meetings will be more about the personal connection, in contrast, virtual meetings will be more business-focused and concise. The balance between virtual and in-person meetings is changing. The following statement illustrates this: Because when do we meet really? It is really the virtual meetings or exchanges that are really for professional business-related topics. Whereas if I want to meet someone in person, it is also to connect, it is also to have this personal connection and personal interest, more than even the business focus, because that I can perfectly do virtually (Informant #3).
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