Business is mobile today. That doesn’t mean that people are moving around any more than they have in the past. What we’re talking about is mobile technology. Access, with respect to most businesses, is nearly universal and mobile changes everything it touches, including excuses about why we can’t stay communicative concerning business over email.
Why Doing Business Online shouldn't be inhibited by travel
There are sometimes legitimate reasons why business is put on hold. In the event of major storms or natural disasters, reasonable pauses are to be expected. But, technology keeps us more connected than ever.
Specifically, in the case of a contact that needs to be signed, travel isn’t a good enough excuse for why business can’t proceed. The justification that “Mr. X is traveling” doesn’t work because documents can be signed on the go. There are even apps that turn a picture into a PDF, making it a matter of signing, taking a picture, and sending it back.
Some might say that they couldn’t answer an email because they were traveling. But what they’re forgetting is that many airlines now provide both paid and free Wi-Fi. If the flight does not offer Wi-Fi, then responding once you hit the ground is easy enough. However, flights without Wi-Fi availability will increasingly become less common. According to a September 2017 report called “Sky High Economics,” “the seismic shift to an ‘always connected’ culture means passenger Wi-Fi is now a necessity rather than a luxury.”
The problem, according to the report, is that “only around 25% of planes in the air are offering some form of onboard broadband. This is often of variable quality, with patchy coverage, slow speeds and low data limits.”
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But, that will soon change: “By 2035, it is likely that inflight connectivity will be ubiquitous across the world.”
Another way to stay connected is to communicate before your trip. To make sure that everyone is on the same page, communicate about expectations concerning how you’ll check in with the office. Clarify what the office expects from you and what you can deliver. If you’re driving, for example, you might want to make it clear that you won’t be returning emails until you stop for gas or a break. If you’re flying, however, you might be expected to be available.
By 2035, it is likely that inflight connectivity
will be ubiquitous across the world.
Also consider that some co-workers won’t reach out to you if you’re not in the office. Staying available will show that you’re reliable and willing to help, so make it clear that you’re open to texts or emails while you’re away so that your colleagues aren’t hesitant to reach you.
Another way to stay within reach is to choose particular travel options that will help you stay productive on the road. Taking a train, for example, instead of a plane to a nearby city might be a bit more expensive, but it’s calmer, quieter, and the Wi-Fi on the train is generally known to be reliable.
In the end, communication and the truth are the answers to this problem. Any response is better than no response. Something as quick as “we still have some questions we need to resolve before we sign” or “I didn’t get back to you because what you were talking about really isn’t a priority for me at this point” works better than leaving everyone in limbo. Then again, telling the truth requires courtesy, so that may a stretch sometimes. At any rate, we need to stop blaming travel and try more honest communication.
That’s what business is about: being honest and doing what you say you will do. That bit of common courtesy can be so rare that it will matter a lot when a partner or colleague needs to reach you. Maybe one day, honest companies will be commonplace and business will proceed smoothly. Until that day comes, those companies and their employees that value truth and do the hard work of staying in communication will be the ones to really stand out.
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