The shift to videoconferencing demanded by the COVID-19 pandemic is prompting major German companies—including Deutsche Bank, Bayer, and BMW—to think twice about returning to the business travel that was so costly to corporate bottom lines, and to the climate.
Citing a report from the news agency dpa, Clean Energy Wire writes of the epiphany being experienced by CEOs and CFOs across Germany as they recognize that online meetings can often accomplish the same goals as the in-person meetings that once brought personnel together across vast distances by air.
Armament manufacturer Rheinmetall saw telephone and video conferences increase six-fold over the past four months, “while travel costs dropped by some 80% in the same period,” notes CEW. However, despite dollar and time savings, greater availability at short notice, and smaller carbon footprints, any full conversion to virtual meetings will likely come up against a persistent faith that in-person meetings are more valuable, and sometimes necessary.
Research projects and business instincts are aligning on the value of video conferencing, however, with a recent survey from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering finding that nearly 90% of 500 German companies “will more critically question the importance of business trips in the future.”