Adapting to a new way of working during the Covid crisis has “humanised hierarchy” within travel businesses and forged closer bonds between leaders and their teams.
That was a primary reflection from industry bosses during TTG Media and Abta LifeLine’s Get Travel Talking Week, as they assessed how they and their teams had acclimatised to more than a year of working apart.
Lisa McAuley, managing director, B2B tour operations at dnata Travel Europe, said she believed leaders allowing staff into their homes via video call had positively changed the workplace dynamic, with her team inadvertently meeting members of her family.
John Sullivan, head of commercial at The Advantage Travel Partnership, agreed, saying he believed enforced working from home had “created a much deeper understanding of the people we work with”.
“[The pandemic] has changed the dynamic with staff and teams,” he said. “It’s much more about collaboration, and more genuine. There’s perhaps less corporate speak and [we are] more in touch with what people are doing and feeling – it’s made us a lot more human.”
Having a “greater level of appreciation” for the challenges faced by colleagues was also echoed by Ben Bouldin, vice-president EMEA of Royal Caribbean International.
“It’s been really tough,” he said. “Everyone has a story and stuff going on. In normal work times, we’re probably not as aware of others’ challenges because you’re in the office and you’ve got your game face on.
“But because we’re at home, there’s more of yourself on screen all the time. You can’t hide some of your frustrations and moods.
“We’ve all had to be more candid with one another, more honest about how we’re feeling and about what’s working and not working. People have opened up more.”
McAuley added she felt opening up to her team was important, which led her to write an article explaining how she had struggled during the winter lockdown, with colleagues coming forward and sharing similar feelings.
“As a leader, if you can be honest, it sets the tone for people being more comfortable,” she said.