Wednesday, June 29, 2022

On The (Business) Road Again

 For the first time in something like four years, I am on a business trip.

Once upon a time, many years ago - and by "many years" I mean prior to the Great Recession of 2008 and even farther back, 2001 - business travel in my line of work was simply a thing that was done on a regular basis.  Needed to audit a facility?  Business trip.  Needed to release a product?  Also, business trip.  Needed to assess a potential vendor or make second contact?  More often than not, business trip.

Then, of course, the world happened:  The Towers fell.  The money dried up as companies collapsed. And then, most recently, most travel stopped altogether.

And now, here we are.

Business travel is one of those things that seems exciting and mysterious when other people do it, but can become common place and frankly somewhat of an inconvenience when it becomes a regular state of affairs (yes, I understand there are some people that thrive on such things; I am not one of them).  Beyond the current inconvenience of the travel itself (and if you are a person that lives by schedules as I do, it can qualify as an inconvenience), there is simply the fact that business travel is short and to the point and creates its own amount of additional work.

An example:  On this trip, I will literally be in the location I am going to for 27 hours or so, some portion of that that will be covered be sleep, another by meals, and a smaller part by the actual trip itself.  Meanwhile of course, my "regular" job does not go away and the day after that will likely be me pouring through e-mails trying to catch up.

Of course, nothing beats meeting people and seeing sites by going in person and to that end - no matter what else happens - the trip will be a success, even if in the end the business is not pursued:  if a picture is worth a thousand words, then seeing a site and meeting the people is at least a thousand pictures.  And to that extent, if one trip makes a bevy of teleconferences and e-mails unnecessary, it is to that extent a useful endeavor.

Is this the beginning of a new era of business travel, at least for me?  I have no idea.  Business travel remains a very expensive option, especially compared to the aforementioned teleconferences and e-mails - and if the last two years have demonstrated anything, it is that such things can be effectively done remotely.   I suspect there will be a bit more - after all, that thousand pictures and all - but I suspect that, like holiday parties of old that were the equivalent of Roman Triumph, the era of the casual constant business travel has passed as well.

Which, perhaps, is for the better, at least for me.  After all, the rabbits do miss me.

8 comments:

  1. I'm guessing more than the rabbits would miss you!

    In weighing the pros and cons, I think you're right to look at the benefits. That certainly makes an inconvenience more tolerable.

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    1. Well, the guinea pigs too, from what they tell me...

      It was actually a very successful trip, just the sort of thing that makes the trip worth it - or as much of "worth it" as being gone for so short a period can be!

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  2. Exactly. Rabbits are family, too. God grant you strength and a safe, blessed trip, TB.

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    1. Thanks Linda. They are always happy to see me, after they express my displeasure for leaving in the first place.

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  3. Right on the money. The sights, sounds and smells don't make it through a conference call or zoom meeting.

    I used to enjoy the week I'd spend on the road a few times a year. Every few months, I'd go to my outlying areas of responsibility. Run PM's on my equipment, meet with the users and find out if there were any complaints. Getting to visit with my friends, basically. There were special projects, moves, and other times we got to travel. I didn't mind if they lasted a week. Two weeks was too much.

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    1. STxAR, there are things that simply work better if they are seen.

      In terms of your timing, I agree. One day is really too short, two weeks is too much. 3-5 days is probably just about right.

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  4. I think we're in a cycle right now of folks working remotely and traveling for business very little. I think it will last a few more years and heads of big companies will start to say we work better when we're together (some started to say it already, but they began to lose people in masses, so they cooled it), and you can't replace a personal meeting with a trip to see someone. When this happens, they will act as if these are new and novel concepts, and a new cycle will begin. Yawn.

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    1. Bob, the one thing that may play some havoc is simply cost. Travel is more expense, and business travel is (in some ways) a racket: almost by default everything is more expensive because ultimately, everything is a write off.

      In terms of in house work, one thing that has impacted even my business is that by allowing for remote work, it has given us the opportunity to tap a much larger pool of employees than we might if we either only looked locally or we made the "move here" dictum a reality. That works if you are in a large hub, not so much in smaller markets (also, companies seem to be much less willing to pay for moves now).

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