Obsessed with time

After several years of full-time telecommuting, I have to admit to myself that I’ve become obsessed with time.  I find that I’ve become critical of people who want me to drive into work for a short meeting, or, worse still, fly to a half-day meeting half-way across the country.  Since I know that it is easy and perfectly productive to hold a half-day meeting virtually, I just can’t see spending time and money to travel.  Here is a quick comparison of the two scenarios:

Virtual half-day meeting

  1. log-in to a virtual sharing session (1 minute)
  2. dial the phone conference number (1 minute)
  3. meet for half-day (half-day)
  4. log off (zero time)

Traditional half-day meeting

  1. arrange travel (flight, car, hotel; 1 hour)
  2. pack my bags (30 min)
  3. travel to the airport via taxi (30 min)
  4. endure the craziness at the security checkpoint (20 min)
  5. wait for boarding (60 min)
  6. endure the long, noisy airline fight sitting next to perfect stranger who needs a bathroom break every 30 min (7 hours with transfer)
  7. at arrival, pick up a car (mind you, I don’t check any bags, ever) (60 min)
  8. drive to the hotel (30 min, typical)
  9. check-in (30 min, if they aren’t busy)
  10. eat dinner, sleep, get ready, eat breakfast (time doesn’t count as I’m ‘off the clock’)
  11. drive to the meeting (15 min)
  12. meet for half-day (half-day)
  13. travel back home, repeating much of the above (8 hours)
The difference in time is astounding.  Traveling to a traditional half-day meeting costs me nearly 20 hours of productive work time—half a work week!  Compare that with the virtual meeting where I spend a total of two minutes in ‘travel time’.   Now, you might argue that people are more productive when they meet in person.  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  Do you build relationships faster in person?  Sure, no question. And, for meeting new customers for the first time, a face-to-face meeting might be required.  But, for most meetings, travel is unnecessary and a very large waste of employee productivity and company money.  All you need is some basic virtual meeting skills and some practice to allow people to work productively virtually. The result is less stress for employees and much greater productivity.
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