At the height of the MP’s expenses scandal, Tory MP Nicholas Winterton was at the centre of a row surrounding first class rail travel. Whilst his comments were widely interpreted as a statement of class and privilege, there was a serious message which should resonate with anyone that has to travel regularly on business.
If you cannot work whilst travelling, then this is dead time – time spent simply getting somewhere. So the problem is more fundamental than your mode of transport. Trains are going to be overcrowded and roads congested, but the problem is having the tools available to limit unnecessary travel.
I spent some time thinking about my own travel profile; and whilst there are many meetings that I need to attend in person, there are certainly a high proportion of meetings that could be conducted remotely via tools such as video conferencing and web meetings. Despite this, I spend in the region of 12 hours a week on trains, often getting the 5:50am to ensure a seat, costing thousands of pounds a year, in the process.
Why? Until now the tools required to conduct proper remote meetings have been the preserve of the conference room. You generally have to book a room designed to seat 20 people, and take a crash course in using the AV equipment – plus have a standby technician just in case. The pre-cursor to the meeting is then lots of emailing, document sending and various audio/video instructions and to be honest, it’s easier and quicker to book a train ticket; we’re all busy after all.
Recently, however, things have changed. In preparation for the general availability of our suite of collaboration and telephony services I have been putting the tools through their paces with various teams as well as number of customers.
Once I got over the general “wow” factor of being able to right click someone in SharePoint and have my desk phone automatically call them, I started to use the lesser known features such as drag and drop internal conferencing and desktop sharing which make internal collaboration easy and effective. Being able to quickly share a desktop or drag colleagues into a voice or video conference without having to fiddle around booking rooms or sending out invites is definitely easier than booking a train ticket; so from now on, I will be sitting in a first class seat, but it will be the one in my office or home!