The coronavirus pandemic that has halted the world in its tracks and affected nearly a million people and counting is sure to have a long-lasting effect on many industries and the way they operate. One of the hardest hit is the airlines sector, which might see its long profitable run facing an end with the travel restriction in effect all over the world.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade group, projected a possible hit to worldwide revenues of up to $113bn this year.
The airlines may not soon see any recovery with people bound to keep off any travel in the near future. Moreover, most companies have adopted work from home and remote working as an alternative to meet the crisis. Going by reports, this option is finding greater acceptance with the help of digital technology that is now available worldwide. With fast internet and many apps and tools that allow video conferencing and telecommuting, work from home is efficient and less distracting.
John Sculley, the former CEO of Apple, has become a great advocate of this way of working. And he believes remote working will challenge the business models of many airlines that rely on business travel as a source of revenue.
"I used to travel a lot everywhere. I thought nothing to jumping on a plane, flying somewhere, meeting somebody, going to a conference," Sculley explained to Business Insider. "But I'm getting actually more work done working remotely from my home office and not racing around. So what's the impact gonna be on airline travel for business?”
The pandemic has crushed the air travel industry with most airlines and governments banning international flights and curtailing even domestic flights. Some countries have gone on complete lockdown, which means no air or rail travel for at least a month.
The losses to the travel industry are huge. So much so that some industries are seeking a bailout from the respective governments.
The US airline industry is seeking a $60bn bailout from the federal government in the form of direct aid and loan. Estimates say the air collapse may jeopardize some 750,000 jobs in the sector. Delta and United Airlines and American Airlines have already asked employees to go on voluntary unpaid leave.
The pandemic is bound to get over in time, but Sculley feels that the way the world travels will see a massive change. Tourism will pick up after initial hesitations like after the 20/11 disaster, but business travel will definitely see a drastic cut.
"My sense is that it's going to take longer for those industries to come back unless they get imaginative and start to rethinking," Sculley said, adding "my guess is that business travel will probably be down for a long time."
The work from home option will impact business travel. The remote work option and its viability will help people avoid unnecessary travel.
People have discovered that remote working is not distracting, it is possible to be connected with the office through digital technology, and in some cases, it is more productive too.
Sculley believes that after the Pandemic, things will bounce back as they do after every crisis in time, but there will be some breakthroughs in the way business is conducted. People have to take advantage of this new avenue of working that has broadened. Tele and video conferencing businesses should take note and innovate with the possibilities.
Remote work will soon be the norm rather than an anomaly. A study by Airtasker, a platform for outsourcing tasks, found in its survey of 1004 employees both full time and remote that remote workers were more productive. They work 17 additional days a year, and an additional 10 minutes per day.
“The modern workforce is increasingly mobile, collaborative [and] dynamic, and comprises multi-generations, all with differing communication preferences," said Stacey Epstein, CEO of Zinc. "These workers span multiple industries … all who represent unique challenges when it comes to staying connected while on the job.”
Remote work is a good option to bring this diverse workforce together and get optimal benefits of their skillsets and expertise and avoid the headaches of managing a team with its incumbent pulls and pushes in a brick and mortar office.