Travel agents say the switch to remote working during the coronavirus crisis is likely to make them re-evaluate their work-life balance in future.

Business owners and staff have been forced to relocate to work from home and with smaller workforces communicating remotely during the UK lockdown.

In a Travel Weekly Webcast, agents said the change had forced them to rethink the way they work and their work-life balance. In future, they said they may work reduced hours and travel less to events while making more use of technology such as video client appointments to save time and money.

Triangle Travel managing director Rob Kenton said: “The work-life balance is a big thing as all of us probably work 15 to 16 hours a day, six days a week.”

Kenton said he would now consider a reduction of staff working hours and using more technology to contact customers.

He said: “We’re looking at condensing our working hours across the store, down to a five day working week.

“We seem to be chasing business all the time, which puts a huge amount of pressure on all of us. And I think clients, especially our clients, have come on leaps and bounds [in terms of technology]. Technology is cheap, easy, and it saves a lot of time.”

The Travel Village Group managing director Phil Nuttall said employees in the travel industry felt “peer pressure” to attend business meetings or events, often held in London, and said this could become less important in future.

He said: “I don’t think you’ll see me flying down on the train into London as often as I used to do. It’s quite a cost on the business, especially when you are living in the north of England. I’ll be sad about that but I have also reassessed our lives.

“There will be a lot more of me and all the people in the north using things like Zoom.

“I think all of us here can probably say the same, that we’ve evaluated what’s important to us, and how we can work in the industry better, more efficiently, but also have a bit more of a work-life balance.”

Nuttall urged tour operators to rethink the amount of driving their sales representatives have to do on the road when there was so much scope for meetings to be held virtually.

He added: “I want tour operators to really take a bigger view of this. It’s important that we use some of this technology to bring the industry back to life and involve customers and sales people in a better way than we did before.

“You don’t have to book venues and spend money, you can do virtually meetings and conferences for customers. There is so much we can do.”

11JuneBanner