Agile Articles

Travel is Back…but should it be?

We have reached the rubicon of this pandemic: the world of travel has returned. have the return to travel. I’ve certainly travelled more in this last 3 months than the two years behind them. My first travel this year was to Minnesota. Let me provide some sage advice. If you want to do release planning in person, don’t choose Minnesota in January.

Picture this: myself and another coach were flying into Minneapolis. Things were going well, though we had heard of some diceyness on the ground. The landing time came and passed, and I and another passenger realized that this wasn’t going well. Then the announcement – we can’t land because ice on the freeway. Now I don’t need to go into the whole circus, since so many of us have had this experience of late. In short, I was redirected to the even colder metropolis of Fargo, North Dakota. Despite the wonderful people, the IT systems of Delta Airlines (yes I’m naming names) caused even more issues with our hoteling (where IS that voucher? Still waiting). Half of the group didn’t make it to canceled flights, but we saved the event by some skillful pivoting and use of the incredible Mural tool. Moral: don’t travel in January to a winter climate. Pick another location. The cash-difference won’t be that significant, and you’ll get everyone there, and you’ll have a morale boost due to location warmness. Can you say Florida? Maybe California?

So the pattern seems to be leaning back into travel, but the copious inefficacies of that mode of meeting were brought back to me in spades. The amount of time I spent, the client spent, and my company in missing my time around, plus some recuperation time as I did acquire a cold during this sojourn. Add to this the environmental cost of numerous plan trips and Ubers and the return on investment plummets quickly.

I do hope that the “New World” we’re in does not crave to return to the ways of old. Commuting extracts a terrible toll, and while it is indeed much nicer and effective to be with your teams, there’s simply no call for it day in, day out, for 40+ hours a week. I support a hybrid model, where teams can gather where they want quarterly with monthly gatherings. These planning events, such as release planning, portfolio planning are high bandwidth, high stakes events that benefit from in person. However, even that has limits considering the importance of outsourcing to other geographies. Flying people to or from India on a frequent basis is obviously cost prohibitive, and yet what are we to do? I suggest every few years getting together with folks outside of your country. these sorts of trips are wonderful and add a benefit of cultural exposure that domestic travel doesn’t provide. I’ve been to India twice, and Sweden for work, and on all of those trips picked up a lot more than I could have over the phone.

Regardless, the need for multimodal communications and solutions is the new need. Those companies that adapt have a competitive advantage for the foreseeable future, improving their employees life’s and reducing the impact on the environment.

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