Hybrid

How the Era of Hybrid Work Impacts Employee Travel, Spending, and the Workplace Experience

Sponsored by: SAP Concur

The next chapter of the future of work – hybrid work—is underway as businesses return to the physical office in some capacity while honoring employee flexibility to work from home. Hybrid work is new territory, and there’s more to consider than desk assignments. 

With employees working from different locations on any given day, there’s a need to reconsider the processes and policies that govern day-to-day work. Especially when it comes to employee spending. 

Here’s what is important to know about employee spend – through travel and expenses – in the era of hybrid work, and how it impacts the workplace experience.

Work From Anywhere Business Trips

Business travel took new shapes during the pandemic. While many organizations paused formal travel programs, some employees took personal trips with a business component. For example, the “work from vacation home” trend. Workers took advantage of remote work settings by taking trips with long stays. All they needed was Wi-Fi and a charging station, and they could work from Hawaii for a month. 

The flexibility to mix work and personal trips is likely to stick and become an expected aspect of workplace benefits. A recent SAP Concur survey of 1,000 U.S. business travelers found that nearly half of business travelers perceive “bleisure” travel – taking personal time off while on a business trip – as a standard workplace benefit. 

The hybrid workplace is likely to travel as well. Business travelers say that common workspaces during a business trip have included a café or coffee shop (70%), lobby (64%), waiting room (57%), and poolside (31%). Employees are now used to working from the couch or their bed. It makes sense that they’re more accustomed to non-traditional workspaces during business trips as well. Now, they’ll appreciate the flexibility to choose alternative lodging accommodations or casual business meeting spaces. 

As a side note, more than a third of business travelers (39%) have reported working from a restroom. But we’re not anticipating the start of porcelain cafes. 

Bumps in Hybrid Spend Processes

The hybrid work environment calls for adapted spend management processes. Not only are employees spending on new expense categories, like home office equipment, but the associated processes used to manage spending have typically relied on workers being in the office. Now, they’re conducting business from waiting rooms or restrooms, and without proper infrastructures, errors are likely to occur. 

An SAP Concur survey of 100 U.S. finance managers and 1,000 U.S. business travelers found that nearly all finance managers (98%) have seen an increase in non-compliant expenses during the past year. Though most (53%) believe those expenses stem from unclear policies, employees admit to being a bit more mischievous. Nearly two-thirds of business travelers admit to intentionally trying to get reimbursed for personal expenses. In fact, nearly all (89%) have submitted at least one travel expense in the past year that might have violated their company’s travel policies. On average, $3,397 of questionable expenses.

What could be motivating employees to skirt policies? In the past year, 86% of business travelers have reported that their company has been delayed in reimbursing their business expenses at least once. Nearly all agree this impacts their personal finances. Many people have been challenged by rising costs from inflation. As a result, late expense reimbursements that create added stress for workers are an issue.  

The Digital Office

One aspect of work provides consistency: the digital office. No matter where employees are, they’re plugged into digital infrastructures that enable them to do their best work. Travel and expense management solutions should fit within this framework and enable workers to make purchases, on the go, simply. 

Learn how to support and adapt to the future of travel and expense management in our eBook.