Big Ideas
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Ready or Not: 2022 is Coming

Jason_Kimrey
Employee
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In my house, we enjoyed Thanksgiving a few weeks ago with many of our normal traditions, which was a welcome change from a year ago. It was a sign to me that the pendulum is swinging back towards a return to a more balanced world.

A few weeks ago, I shared some of the latest trends identified by analysts and media outlets for the coming year. It always serves as good insights to help us take the pulse of market sentiment. As business and team leaders, it also helps us support our team and our customers to be aware of market shifts and how businesses are reacting to it.

As we get further into December, we are all hard at work closing out 2021 and planning for 2022. No doubt we are all hoping the trend towards a return to normal is ahead.

Are You Ready for Business Travel?

Like many of you, I have been travelling for business quite a bit more over the last month. On one hand, we are all looking forward to face-to-face connections, but on the other hand, we’ve gotten accustomed to the efficiency of a fully virtual environment. Like many people, I’ve also enjoyed being home to take in games and activities you sometimes miss with a busy travel schedule.

It’s no surprise business travel declined 90% in early 2020 (according to Deloitte), with 54% of companies not expecting to return to 2019 levels of business travel spending until Q4 2022. Of course, any travel projections are tempered by caution that the pandemic is under control and restrictions continue to be loosened.

While I have enjoyed getting back out there and reconnecting with people I haven’t seen in the real world for over a year, corporate restrictions on travel remain. We are analyzing much more closely the reasons for travel and we’re more strategic about what trips get approved. The reality is the pandemic has fundamentally changed the business travel landscape. At the same time, we recognize relationships matter and being able to connect in person helps build relationships in a way that’s hard to maintain in a fully virtual world.

We are being more strategic and thoughtful about when we are needed and where we are needed, while being very intentional about what we want to accomplish at those meetings. And, while travel remains optional (and will remain optional for the rest of this year), travel is coming back so we must be ready.

It’s important for leaders to keep an eye on team members and recognize there can be some reluctance or hesitancy around travel. We need to be encouraging and supportive, while at the same time acknowledging that some roles like sales will require a certain level of travel to be successful.

The Great Resignation?

Rethinking of personal priorities and the requirements of a job are some of the reasons behind what the press is calling the great resignation. Resignations in the US peaked in July with the US reaching a record-breaking 10.9 million open jobs.

I haven’t seen this kind of mass exodus in my team, but it is true we are all prioritizing our time differently now. Many organizations, ours included, are actively looking at the way our roles are structured to see if there are different models that will work for our company and our team members.

In IT, we have always been in a major talent crunch, so retention strategies have been a priority. I see that continuing. At the same time, we will continue to embrace hybrid work models to allow us to offer the flexibility that we’ve become accustomed to.

The Future of Events

While we are talking travel and work-life balance, you can’t help but think about the future of events and conferences. We started to see a return to in-person events through the Fall and by all accounts, the opportunities to meet up in person will continue to accelerate in 2022.

I think we will continue to see hybrid formats for events going forward. We will leverage the best of both worlds to connect with people in person but extend the reach of our events using some of the online and virtual engagement tools we have been embracing.

For example, some of my team recently competed against some of our partner organizations in an e-sports event. It was a fun way to connect in a virtual setting. Creativity is the key here because there remains a lot of virtual fatigue in the world.

Prioritizing Sustainability

There is one more element to the return to travel that I wanted to touch on and that’s the recognition of the impact travel on the environment. As companies strive to reduce their climate footprint, deliver more sustainable products, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and limit our impact on the environment, travel becomes part of that discussion too.

“Travel ranks among the top targets for corporate environmental harm reduction, along with reducing paperwork and greening supply chains.” Deloitte

Intel has a comprehensive corporate responsibility plan, with ambitious corporate goals for sustainability, diversity and inclusiveness through our “RISE” strategy and goals.

I am proud that corporate responsibility is embedded in our corporate values and believe it’s important for all of us to consider the impact we are having on the world around us.

*****

As the holidays near, I want to say thank you – to my team for their dedication and resilience in difficult times, and to our partners for their support and commitment to helping businesses succeed in a world that seems to be changing daily. Without you, we can’t accomplish the amazing things we have, as we have faced one of the most challenging environments in history. Wishing you all the very best for the holiday season and in 2022.

About the Author
Jason Kimrey is Vice President of US Channel and Partner Programs
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