Business travel. It’s a personal and professional test of character, stamina and flexibility – and willingness to call on the home team and bench to keep things moving forward.
During a recent three-week barrage of travel to Missouri, Michigan and Oregon, I opted to maintain an office presence while not actually being there. It turned out to be more challenging than I anticipated.
Should I set an away message in Outlook? I didn’t. I can keep up with emails, I decided. What about changing my voicemail message? No. I’ll check in often enough that I’ll return calls on my routine pace. Do I ask our receptionist to advise clients I’m not actually in the office, and their patience is appreciated? Again, I decided I could respond quickly enough to all communications. No need to mention my physical whereabouts.
Those of you who travel routinely are no doubt chuckling by now. You know I was able to honor my communication objectives about 50 percent of the time – the time when I had access to Wi-Fi, the time when I had phone battery, the time when I had time.
The other 50 percent of the time? I quickly figured out I had only one viable option – call or send an emergency email or text to the home team and request an immediate pinch hitter. Whether it was returning a client’s message, taking a next step on a project or following-up on a conversation or task I would have managed had I been in the office, the Bottom Line team covered every gap and responded to every need.
I ended up sharing my situation with a few clients, as a way to buy a bit more time on a few items. It seemed only fair they should know. In the main, however, work continued without a hitch. The biggest stressor was my own anxiety level as I typed out long emails on my phone, waited for an opportunity to open my iPad to view an email attachment and hoped I could make a quick call while trying to catch a connecting flight. Remarkably, it all worked out.
I can’t say how I’ll manage my next business trip, but thanks to our rock solid team, my approach succeeded this time.
- Beth Fredrickson, Senior PR Counselor