In the current debate on climate protection, an increasing amount of voices are calling for a step change in politics, public administration, and firms away from business travel and toward more phone and video conferences. Firms in the German information economy have already started to implement this change. Around 57 per cent of companies in this sector have replaced business trips with digital conference solutions in the past three years – this decision was, however, driven by economic rather than ecological reasons. This is the result of a special assessment included in the current Sector Report on the Information Economy, for which the ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim surveyed around 1,000 companies in the German information economy.

According to ZEW industry report, business travel is being replaced by digital conference solutions
Around 57 per cent of companies in the German information economy have replaced business trips with digital conference solutions in the past three years.

Among the around 57 per cent of companies in the information economy that have already replaced business trips with digital conference systems, it is particularly large corporations with at least 100 employees (around 84 per cent) and companies in the information and communication technologies (ICT) sub-sector (around 77 per cent) that are opting for phone and video conferences. By contrast, knowledge-intensive service providers, such as law, tax and business consultancies, architectural and engineering offices as well as the advertising industry and market research companies have been the least likely to renounce business trips.

Almost all companies in the German information economy cited the time-saving aspect as the main reason for replacing business trips with digital conferences, while 88 per cent still named the saving of costs arising from business trips as an important reason.

Personal contact will continue to play a decisive role in business relationships

“Our analysis shows that it is mainly economic considerations that motivate companies to rethink. Merely 44 per cent of companies stated that environmental aspects played a crucial role in their decision,” says Dr. Jörg Ohnemus, deputy head of the ZEW Research Department “Digital Economy”. Overall, the companies in the German information economy see further potential for reducing the number of business trips. It remains clear, however, that maintaining personal contact will continue to play a decisive role in business relationships. “More than 93 per cent of companies in the information economy consider personal exchange to be necessary in business relationships and state that at a certain point business trips can no longer be replaced with phone and video conferences,” explains Ohnemus.

Date

22.08.2019

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