Travel reduction could be just the job

Last week, in this new world we inhabit, albeit temporarily for now, I did a day’s work for a company. If that day’s work had taken place a month or two ago, it would have unfolded very differently. I have every reason to believe it acts as a precursor of things to come, writes Liam Horan, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

Liam Horan, BALLINROBE Tel: 094 95 42965

Instead of leaving my home shortly after 6am to drive the 100 or so miles for our 8.40am start, I rambled into my office ten minutes beforehand. I had no problem with parking and I didn’t have the anxiety of wondering where exactly the meeting was taking place. Plus, nobody else had problems with traffic or parking either.

Job interview panel

I was a member of a job interview panel. During the interviews, I had access to my laptop so I could check the candidates’ CVs, their LinkedIn profiles and anything else that came to mind while my colleagues were asking questions.

When a candidate referred to something they were involved in, I could pull it up on my screen and engage them in further discussion about it. And it facilitated deeper conversations and made things more real.

Of course, I could do the same while sitting opposite a person in a physical interview, but I feel it would be much more disconcerting to have a panelist on their laptops in that scenario than it is in an online job interview.

Remote work

I had three colleagues on the panel with me. All would have had to travel considerable distances to get to the venue. And three of the six candidates would also have had to travel distances.

Add up the fuel costs, the time, the carbon footprint, the room rental and everything else involved and you can see why online may remain the more attractive option in the future.

Was it as effective? I think it was. Did we get the most suitable candidate? I think we did.

And people adjusted quickly. Nobody had any IT issues of note and everybody turned up on time and appeared comfortable.

Towns benefit

The economy depends on activity. So one town didn’t get four or more of us buying lunch – but our home towns benefitted because we ate locally-purchased food in our home. Swings and roundabouts.

I foresee a future where we travel primarily for leisure purposes, not work. We want to see the Taj Mahal before we die. You can’t do that – like, really do that – online.

I spoke with a client this morning who lives in the west and travels to Dublin two days per month for meetings with his managers and colleagues. These past few weeks have made him realise just how unproductive those days are. He’s already agitating for remote meetings to remain the norm. And he’s getting a favourable reaction.

We are all working from home now. If that’s is a step too far in the long-term, perhaps we can base ourselves in our local town in an enterprise hub or in a small office over a shop to create distance between our working and home lives.

Then we can eat lunch in local restaurants. Reduce childcare costs. And so on. All of this might lead to a revival of struggling small towns and that’s certainly needed.

It strikes me that it’s all up for grabs now.