By Karen Adamedes.
If you travel for business you know just how time consuming it can be.
The taxi to the airport, maybe drop off a bag, undress to get through security (well it feels like that some days), a quick coffee, board, the actual flight and then the convoluted process at the other end! Deplaning whilst your fellow passengers play a round of ‘wrestle-the-bag’ from the overhead locker, waiting for your luggage (if you’re not a bag wrestler) the line for a taxi, the trip to your destination listening to the cab driver on the phoneand hey presto, you’re where you need to be! My recent 30 minute flight from Sydney to Canberra took me just on 2 1/2 hours door to door – and that was a quick trip!
It’s no wonder that it can be tempting to make up for this ‘lost’ time and work on the plane (train or automobile!).
There are at least 5 good reasons why this is not a great idea – but I’m guessing this first one should be enough to convince you!
Think about this:
Reason 1: If they can read it, they can tweet it!
Or post it to Facebook. Or take a photo and Instagram, Pinterest or Tumblr suddenly become your unplanned go-to-market strategy.
No matter how confidential (or not) your work, or how discrete you think you are being, do you really want to chance it that others can see what you’re working on?
If it is confidential – the results could be disastrous. Do you know who is sitting next to you? Or across the aisle? Or nearby with a good view of your work? Do you know who they work for? Who their friends are? Not only do you not know everyone who might be able to see your work, you don’t know who they know! They may not be a direct competitor but they might think that whatever you are working on is interesting enough to mention to someone. And it may not get shared on social media, but it could become the topic for a coffee or at a weekend BBQ.
A friend of mine recently saw a branding strategy for a minor celebrity that one of their team was reviewing on a flight in full view. They may have been a minor celebrity but well-known enough that if it had been someone without integrity in the next seat it might very well have been leaked on the Internet rather than form the basis of our, “This is why we don’t work on planes” conversation. We regularly have this, along with one of our other soapbox topics, “That’s why you don’t have confidential meetings in coffee shops”.[Sidebar story – waiting to get my lunch in an airport this week I heard an organizations strategy to field a political candidate to represent their interest being loudly and clearly discussed. I was a little unclear about exactly what organization they were from, but one of the guys was helpfully wearing a t-shirt that had their name embroidered over the pocket. Maybe they would like some publicity but I don’t think that was their plan. What exactly were they thinking?]
Anyway back to working when you travel, the bottom line is – if you wouldn’t tweet it or invite strangers into your office whilst you work – don’t work on it where others can see it!!
What’s the worst that can happen? You lose your competitive advantage? You disclose confidential information? You violate customer or employee privacy? You lose credibility? Is it worth the risk?
If you’re still not convinced, here’s a few other thoughts:
Reason 2: It’s Uncomfortable!
It really doesn’t matter how small your laptop – the combination of the size of your tray table, the recline on the seat in front, your bag under the seat in front (or worse overhead) does not make for an ideal ergonomic work space. Throw a coffee into the mix and you have a potential disaster on your hands!
Reason 3: You need to relax and recharge (sometime…why not now?)
‘Down time’ often leads to your best thinking. Switching off with a good book, trashy magazine (how else are you going to keep up with those Kardashian’s?), favorite movie or TV show can give you time to turn off and recharge. You’ll be more effective when you get back to work.
Reason 4: It’s a chance to learn something
If you can’t bring yourself to actually relax – there are other ways to recharge. Use this valuable time to read an article or business book to learn something or keep up-to-date. Airport book stores are full of business related material. When else are you going to get some uninterrupted time to read stuff?
Reason 5: You could miss the chance to talk to someone really interesting
Now don”t get me wrong, I’m not a plane (train or any other transport) talker. I am much more likely to opt for the music /games on my iPad combo but over the years of business travel I’ve chatted with pilots, business people and even a guy who had represented in Australia in curling at the Olympics (I know, we all laugh about it when the winter Olympics are on – but he was really interesting).
Delightful little interludes that help you practice your communication skills (It’s amazing how much you can learn when you ask the right questions) and give you a little bit bigger world view that the meetings that are likely book-ending your trip.
Personally, I don’t get as much time as I would like to listen to music, so reason no. 3 is enough to justify not working when I travel for business. But even if you’re not a music/TV/movie/trashy magazine lover – the fear of being tweeted should get you over the line!