Who, like me, isn’t missing business travel — getting to and from airports, the airports themselves and the sheer torture of jet lag?
The daily commute, when you can work perfectly well, perhaps better, from home?
Or the frequent trudge up to London for meetings, when you can just as well do the ‘face-to-face’ via a Zoom or Teams call?
Who’s also noticing a massive drop in monthly travel expenses?
Adapting to the new normal
Of course, it’s not just about reducing costs: the coronavirus pandemic is hitting many companies’ top lines. But your ability to pull through this crisis and succeed on the other side will depend not only on how much cash you have, but your agility in adapting to the new normal.
I remember the executive of one European company who used to visit Asia, almost religiously, every month. He’d travel in business class, stay at decent hotels and … well … achieve almost nothing. In fact, it was worse than that: he got in his customers’ way.
That’s one fairly stark example, but there are many cases of executives travelling when they don’t need to: burning valuable time to visit far-flung places, not to mention the costs. They could just as easily have left the job to a capable, local representative, supported by regular online video calls.
The outcome would have been the same or better, and the executive could have used their (expensive!) time to do other things, such as work on new initiatives, develop new business or just spend more family time.
The same is true of costly office space when so many of us can work from home. Less office space means lower costs. And less commuting means greater productivity for employees, too. It’s good for staff welfare and the environment.
So, for those CEOs and divisional MDs contemplating how to compete in the post-coronavirus world, here’s my advice: be less analogue and more digital.
It may sound just like common sense, but I heard only today from a senior manager at a large corporation who – like all his colleagues – was unable to take part in even a basic video call!
It means spending less on office space, business travel and daily commuting, and more on the most advanced digital tools to enable home-working and remote access to people and information, inside and outside your organisation.
It also means adopting a more devolved strategy – giving greater responsibility and accountability to your employees and representatives in your overseas markets.
In the months and years to come, digital transformation – and innovation in general – will become more important than ever for the survival and ‘thrival’ of every business.
Now is the moment to execute that digital pivot and develop a more modern, agile, cost-efficient business: one that will compete and succeed long into the post-pandemic future.