How to Decide if Business Travel Is Worth it Right Now
When the time it takes to decide whether to do Walk the business trip is longer than the trip itself …
That’s me last week, evaluating the rising Covid cases and numerous revelations that there is a real need to network, create brand awareness, and raise funding for a startup. I consult with friends, family, doctors, and authorities on data, public health, even aviation and economics. The decision-making process was difficult and tortuous, and I still didn’t know if I was doing it right. But I’m sharing the journey here because I came out with a framework that is expected to make this choice much faster — or at least a little waste of time — in the future.
Since being vaccinated, I have traveled regularly for work, family reunions, and vacations. During the recent surge in Covid, which was Delta last spring and Omicron this past winter, decision-making was not in my hands, as the events I was scheduled to attend were canceled or rescheduled. I just bent down and flew in the waves.
This season is different. My New York state home was put on “high alert” last week. The little boy on the street tested positive a few hours after playing at my house. Suddenly, my inbox is flooded with emails from my children’s schools warning that there is a classmate who is Covid.
We’ve navigated surges before. But this is in stark contrast to a backdrop of mask orders being removed, restaurants no longer examining vaccination evidence, and, more clearly, a culture of keeping life and business as usual – even if, for most of us, whatever it feels like.
I was hardly alone in my nervousness because of the invisible surge. At Forbes, contributor Talia Milgrom-Elcott approached everyone from mathematicians to game theorists, futurists to psychologists, to study why we are so paralyzed today by uncertainty and decision-making. He concluded: “In fact, over time, the cost of holding hands with low and stake decisions is greater than any benefit you can get from changing your mind.”
Some questions we can ask to make it easier to squeeze the hand:
What are the numbers where you are and where are you going?
Covid rates and response vary in the U.S. and around the world. One of the challenges throughout the pandemic is navigating the unequal, unequal nature of vaccine distribution, Covid trials, and ease of crossing borders. In many cases abroad, boosters are not widespread or available. (But we don’t have to be arrogant: Less than half of Americans with the vaccine receive their booster.)
Data collection also varies, but I am grateful to have a concrete number that I can use to measure Covid cases and vaccination rates in my home and destination towns. There are many global Covid trackers; I confess that the easiest for me is to plug zip codes or city names into search engines.
What are your priorities?
How many of us spent the first months of the pandemic locked in saying we couldn’t go back to the troubled days? How easy to forget.
The questions I asked myself last week: Why are you going, and what do you hope to achieve? Are there other ways to connect with the event, attendees, etc.?
These questions feel even more pressing because the economy seems to be heading for a downturn. And as an entrepreneur, trying to make sure I’m building both capacity for my company’s growth and a runway for the future, evaluating the need for personal connection can be particularly challenging. Much of a startup’s success (and funding) can be chalked up by a random conversation sitting next to someone at an industry lunch.
Such serendipity makes the case for personal events. The hardest part of trying to say what I would miss about not attending a conference was not know what I miss.
What happened before and after the Significant Events?
One doctor I spoke to had an incredibly helpful tip: He told me to make a calendar of future events that were important to me. As a parent of a teenager graduating high school and another child coming out of elementary school, my list is quickly filled with year-end retreats, recitals, proms, dinners, and parties.
The doctor told me to winnow the list until critical, and plan to take the past 10 days more quickly in terms of entering a large, closed crowd. Since the travel in question was to Canada, technically overseas, he also told me that I would have to do the U.S. test requirement to seriously get back to its borders, as well as the possibility of having to be quarantined in out of the country.
Can you risk quarantine? Can you afford the cancellation?
Most of the people I spoke to had stories of friends and family being held in quarantine in another country after a business trip. These stories range from horrible (no doctors, can’t speak local language, need to be hospitalized) to copacetic (vacation has just been extended, hotel room has a nice view, room service not bad).
After creating my calendar, I also listed what events and meetings I might forget if I had to quarantine before returning. I check my flights and hotel details to see if I will be charged if I cancel (I do, even if this process also changes how I book the upcoming trip). There’s nothing more thrilling than watching a 36-hour conference and watching all the events afterwards you can skip, including your own daughter’s graduation party.
What are Covid’s policies around the event?
A doctor and public health expert asked me if I was asking the activity or area about HVAC systems. “The key word is MERV13 filters,” he wrote me.
That sent me to a Google search to find out that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency actually advises: “Upgrading a MERV-13 labeled filter, or the highest rated filter possible. in your HVAC system fan and filter slot, can improve the system’s effectiveness in removing viruses from the surrounding air. “
In the case of the conference I was scheduled to attend, the organizers actively told us that they were satisfied with the circulation policies and that some meetings could be moved outside. However, they also said they could not guarantee that attendees would wear masks, as the policies were set by local governments.
What I decided — and the privilege it brought.
In the end, I chose to skip the event and cancel the trip. I decided that my children’s year-end activities were more than potential networking and brand-building opportunities, all the while knowing that many other professionals don’t have the privilege of making the same decisions. about personal work over the past few years.
I thought the call would bring relief. In fact, it took some, but it didn’t last long. Last Saturday, while running (we bought mulch) with my husband thanks to a sudden “free” day without having to travel, we received a phone call: This is the leader of my Girl Scout troop daughter. Some of the kids on her camping trip had recently tested positive, and she just wanted us to know about the potential danger.