Small businesses help environment with sweeping cut back to business travel

Thursday 13th October 2022

Two in five small businesses (43%) are keeping the 'lockdown mindset' towards business travel in a bid to reduce their carbon footprint and support the environment, according to new research from Novuna Business Finance.

During the Covid lockdown era, a moratorium was put on all non-essential travel as most businesses adjusted to remote working. Whist many aspects of life returned to normal after restrictions fell away, Novuna's research suggests many small businesses became more efficient during the lockdown era.

The poll of 1,027 small business owners revealed how many enterprises have now adopted a more climate-friendly approach to business travel. Of the businesses who used flights to travel pre-pandemic, 43% vowed to keep flying to a minimum now. This was significantly higher than the proportion that would be returning to the same levels as they were pre-pandemic (36%), or the proportion that would increase their flight usage (12%).

By sector, this rose most amongst businesses in the Medical (51%), manufacturing (45%), and hospitality sectors (43%), and those based in the North East (52%) and West Midlands (53%).

For those cutting back, the main reason was greater concern for the environment (33% vs 23% average) and an attempt to reduce their carbon footprint (38% vs 31% average). Financial pressures were also a dominant factor with 29% looking to rein in costs, while 33% percent were concerned about fuel prices.

For those who are either returning to normal or increasing business travel, rebuilding the business and seizing opportunities were the primary concern. Here 34% said they will be travelling more to rebuild their business (vs 20% average), while 18% said that since Brexit they have had to diversify into new markets (vs 13% average).

Jo Morris, Head of Insight at Novuna Business Finance commented: “The small business community is varied and, in some sectors, travel is essential. What our research suggests is that for many office-based enterprises, small business owners have re-thought travel. Technology has normalised remote meetings and helped drive productivity and efficiency.

Enveloping all of this, greater awareness on the importance of sustainability and climate action reinforce the case for small businesses to reduce travel as part of their carbon plan. For many, business life before Covid was about a relentless run of meetings. During lockdown, many learned how to work differently and some of the best practices will continue. Our research suggests changing attitudes to business travel in the short term will help small businesses to control costs - and in the long term it will make a meaningful impact on protecting the planet."

Notes to editors

The research was conducted by MaruBlue among a representative sample of 1,027 small business decision makers.

Sustainability statement

Novuna Business Finance recognises its responsibilities to support society, communities, and it is committed to making a positive and sustainable difference to people’s lives. The business focuses on markets where it can contribute towards the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and provide innovative solutions that require high service levels and a commitment to customer care. The aim is to work with customers to make them aware of more sustainable asset choices, and to work with suppliers, where possible, to help identify more sustainable solutions. Novuna Business Finance is committed to supporting society and the communities in which it operates to make a sustainable difference.