Au Revoir, Business Travel

London, Paris, Milan, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Prague, Amsterdam, Madrid, Oslo, Hong Kong, and, of course, Cannes. A decade working in media and advertising took me around the world many times. In all, I probably traveled more than a half million miles.

The funny thing is that I used to take pride in all of this shuttling to and fro, bragging on social media about my latest geographical conquest. But now that I’m building a tech company and don’t need to travel as much, I've realized that I don’t miss it. In fact, if I can help it, I won't travel that frequently ever again. Here's why:

Health. Travel may seem glamorous -- but in reality, it just involves a lot of sitting around: in the car to the airport, at the terminal and in the plane itself. This sedentary lifestyle, combined with the inevitable increase in food and alcohol consumption, isn't good for the body.

Management. If you manage other people, the time away from your home office can take a toll on your team. I've found that my being gone for more than a few days can make some direct reports feel anxious and confused. By the time I get back to my office, these folks need to check in with me and unload.

Environment. A single round-trip flight from New York to San Francisco creates a global warming effect of a few tons of carbon dioxide per passenger. If you take a half dozen long-haul flights a year, more than three quarters of your annual carbon dioxide emissions likely come from flying.

Family. Traveling for business means time away from spouses, kids and other family and friends. The 2009 film “Up in the Air” starring George Clooney accurately depicted the loneliness, temptations and banality of constantly being on the road.

Technology. Whether it’s through Web demos, video conferencing or social media, I'm connected to my customers and colleagues in ways that would have been impossible a decade ago. Business travel simply isn’t as necessary as it once was.

Productivity. Sure, planes have WiFi now -- but too much time out of the office can be a distraction from getting important things done with colleagues back home.

Status. Travel can make you seem important. Your company is paying to fling you around the world to be in more places and meet more people. But flight delays, cancellations, rude airline employees and the middle seat in coach can take the shine off business travel pretty quick.

Rewards. There is a treadmill effect to travel rewards programs. The more you travel, the more benefits you receive -- but those benefits just encourage you to travel that much more.

Proximity. If you happen to work in New York, where most of the world’s advertising is purchased, everyone you need to meet is probably here or will be soon.

Of course, there are times when long, distance business travel is unavoidable. Big customers require face time and there are some industry events that are too important to pass up. But increasingly there are more reasons just to stay put and focus on the job at hand.

Tags: management
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3 comments about "Au Revoir, Business Travel".
  1. Casey Fitzsimmons from iProspect , February 25, 2013 at 11:46 a.m.
    The bigger question is: Where do you stand on working from home? Many of these same benefits to traveling less could apply to working from home, though Marissa Mayer would disagree!
  2. David Carlick from Carlick , February 25, 2013 at 11:56 a.m.
    I am an ardent fan of videoconferencing, but even so, for people with whom I regularly do business, a personal meeting periodically is essential, but certainly not as frequently if video is used for, say, every other, or two of three meetings. Also, have found that working from home can be fantastic, but only when mixed in with being in person with colleagues. Cutting a commute out for a day or two a week is helpful, especially if all you are commuting in for is phone conferences and to do email.
  3. Matt Straz from Namely , February 25, 2013 at 1:08 p.m.
    Casey and David - Great question/comment. We've had distributed teams from the start (based in Manhattan + Brooklyn). The whole company does get together every week, and the individual teams sit next to one another. We all work from home occasionally but mostly we enjoy being in close proximity to another. Agree that being able to cut the commute out a day a week is really helpful and allows you to get other kinds of work done.