By Anja van den Berg
Digital connection has quadrupled over the past two years, but face-to-face interaction still holds immense benefits in building new relationships, negotiating deals and creating strong teams. However, as the world reopens, there are some additional matters to consider as you evaluate the time and energy investment required for business travel.
“Transitioning back into business travel after the Covid-19 pandemic isn’t as simple as buying a plane ticket,” says Elizabeth Grace Saunders, author of How to Invest Your Time Like Money. Travellers need to recalibrate to know how to pack efficiently, adjust to time zone changes, and modify their meeting schedules — and that’s on top of monitoring differences in travel restrictions, quarantine requirements and Covid risk levels throughout the world.
Saunders says you need to transition back into business trips, and she unpacks your plan below:
- Decide what’s worth travelling for.
Although we’re trying to get back to normality, the global pandemic has altered (often for the better!) how we see the world. Before Covid-19 you may have travelled extensively merely because that was the status quo of your role. Now, however, people have learned to evaluate the benefits of travel.
When reintegrating travel into your work schedule, think about where it would add the greatest advantage. Prioritise those areas where a lack of face-to-face interaction diminished your results. However, consider the restrictions in place where you’re aiming to travel. If meeting face-to-face would be beneficial, it may make more sense for your colleagues or client to come to you because of drastic differences in travel restrictions, quarantine requirements and Covid-19 risk levels throughout the world.
- Condition yourself gradually.
Just like commuting now feels more strenuous than before the pandemic hit the world, people have lost their conditioning for preparing to travel and for the process of travelling. They are now more aware of the perils of packing, jet lag and staying over in hotels than they were before.
Considering these realities, you need to ease yourself into business travel. If you used to travel multiple times a month, start with just one trip every 30 days and see how you feel. Jumping in at full capacity will most likely be overwhelming and may quickly eat into your energy reserves.
- Leave a margin and double-check everything.
When you’re saddling up for the trip, give yourself more margin than you used to. Take time and make a list of everything you need to pack. Double-check if you have included important documents. Schedule your flight for the night before an important meeting rather than taking an early morning flight. It’s also advisable to check which amenities are open at the airport and your destination. Covid-19 has taken its toll on many businesses, and your usual spots might have closed or moved location.
Given the changes from your expected norms, bring some food with you, make reservations in advance, and plan to be flexible. You’ll also have to be aware of any Covid-specific travel requirements for your destination. You might need to do a Covid test, show information on your vaccination status, quarantine a certain number of days, or follow other protocols.
Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2022/03/how-to-ease-back-into-traveling-for-work?registration=success