There seems to be an increasing emphasis on reducing corporate travel and finding new ways to manage without meeting face to face at the moment. Our clients are experiencing three trends that we think are likely to make a permanent shift away from high levels of corporate travel and bring an increased focus on managing without travel
- The first is cost, the cost of travel, particularly international travel has always been there, but higher oil prices have made this more evident at a time when business conditions are getting tougher. We have been running remote and virtual teams and managing without travel training for 14 years and delegates consistently underestimate the true cost of travel in the way they manage, they think about the headline cost of the flight but rarely about the taxi, the time spent travelling and in departure lounge etc…
- The second factor is that there are now some real alternatives to travelling to manage. The next generation of video conferencing and web 2.0 collaboration management tools are starting to provide some realistic alternatives to face and face working at last.
- Thirdly, the issue of carbon emissions has become a real concern for many individuals and corporations.
Before you accuse us of jumping on the green bandwagon too, I deliberately put carbon third because for most companies I think cost and efficiency are the key drivers, however, I have been impressed with the efforts some of our big corporate clients are putting into their environmental management policies.
This year we also had our first three clients where managing without travel training and home working were driven specifically by a carbon reduction target so I think it is becoming a higher priority.
These three factors are making travelling for managers to be face to face with their people more expensive and less acceptable.
It’s not hard to cancel travel – companies do it every year when budgets get tight, the challenge lies in developing the management skills to keep things moving and to manage people when you can’t get face to face.
We need to learn new alternatives to travel and also to be very focused on how we prioritize and use our scarce face to face management time most effectively.