It’s clear that we will continue to feel the long-lasting impact of the pandemic on global economics for the majority of 2021, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Instead, it is a great time to restart and reinvent our ways of working. Middle East businesses need to become more agile and transparent, increase employee satisfaction and make duty of care a strategic priority. Emma Shakespeare, Regional Director – MENA, SAP Concur, outlines four key areas which companies should look to restart.
Money matters – improve compliance and cost control
2020 has shown how quickly circumstances can change. For finance leaders, this has resulted in a host of new challenges, from enabling employees to submit expense claims and invoices remotely, to adjusting to new VAT rules and keeping a close eye on their company’s finances. At a time when financial stability is critical for businesses of all sizes, the finance team needs to see and assess all costs easily to ensure they are compliant with the corporate and government policies in place. This leads to improved compliance and cost control, alongside better management and faster processing. After all, you can’t manage what you can’t see.
No one can predict which scenarios 2021 will have in store for business travel management. However, companies today need to reassure their staff that their safety is a business priority. This will increase employee satisfaction and engagement and ensures that business travellers are fully prepared once they resume travel.
In fact, according to the SAP Concur Global Travel Survey, the safety of the traveller has become the most important factor when assessing organisations and services to approve for use by the organisation. Thanks to state-of-the-art technologies and user-friendly tools, businesses can help employees with their daily tasks. This includes solutions that allow for pre-trip approvals.
Business travel has too often been associated with big carbon footprints, the use of single-use plastics which end up in landfill sites and weary workers. The past few months have put these issues in the spotlight and forced the industry to rethink its relationship to sustainability.
Change is often driven from the bottom up, and we’re seeing a clear impetus for sustainable travel among business travellers themselves. In our Sustainable Corporate Business Travel Index 2020, a survey of 2,450 corporate travel decision-makers and 2,000 business travellers in 12 European markets, 58% of business travellers admitted that they would disregard travel policy and budgets for a ‘greener’ travel option, and 55% would do so in order to book more environmentally friendly accommodation, such as an AirBnB, over a hotel. Better still, 97% of business travellers are willing to add additional time on to their journeys if it improves its sustainability.
In times like these, the success of a company depends on the commitment of its employees. With the many pandemic challenges’ employees have to face, simplifying everyday admin and work tasks can be a great way to support them.
2021 is a crossroad for Middle East businesses of all sizes. Those that are willing to embrace change and adapt will set the standard for business best practice now, and in the future.