When I first started working in consulting after completing graduate school, many of my friends were envious of the fact that I got to travel around the country on company expense for various projects. “It must be nice to go places and see new cities,” they’d say.
Obviously they didn’t think about the early morning rush to catch flights or the drag of taking the red-eye; living day-to-day from a suitcase; weekend laundry chores; etc. Then after 9/11 there was the long lines in airports and all the hassles that came with TSA enforced travel restrictions.
Customer service from airlines didn’t help with the travel experience, either. Besides having to deal with the usual flight delays, we’ve all heard the horror stories about lost baggage, broken guitars, and dead pets. And here’s a new one: loose seats!
In other words, flying kind of sucks these days. Business travel is seen as a necessary evil.
Or is it?
As with many of today’s business problems, technology comes to the rescue. Thanks to faster broadband, more efficient codecs, and affordable hardware, videoconferencing has become a very real and useful tool in business and in personal lives.
Although the high(er)-end videoconferencing solutions don’t come cheap, there are many companies and users who’re happy to settle with consumer-grade videoconference software like Skype and Gtalk. According to the site Statistic Brain, up to 40% of Skype calls are video-to-video. Video collaboration saves time and other resources, while not sacrificing the effectiveness of face-to-face interactions.
So it boils down to this: do you rather take chances with a loose airplane seat or bad hair?