To stay or to go: when to replace a business trip with Zoom

We’ll break down the dilemma of business travel vs. a virtual meeting, weighing the pros and cons, and giving some helpful tips.

We’ll break down the dilemma of business travel vs. a virtual meeting, weighing the pros and cons, and giving some helpful tips.

By Liudmila Buga

zoom business meeting

In the modern day global world, business travel has become an integral part of professional life. However, changing circumstances have invited us to reevaluate the necessity and viability of frequent business trips. Circumstances like the pandemic have caused us to question frequent travel and have brought with it other positive changes to the business world. Among them, the ability to work remotely and to choose to Zoom or not to Zoom. That is to say, along with remote work, virtual meetings have become commonplace, and many employers and clients will think twice before sending their employees on a business trip that can easily be replaced with a Zoom call.

Video conferencing allows you to say goodbye to long waits in airports, high lodging costs, and jet lag. Yet not every meeting can easily be held virtually. We’ll break down some easy steps to decide if business travel is necessary, and at the end of this article, you’ll have a bonus infographic that will make choosing even easier so keep reading to find out more.

The importance of in-person interaction

There is one thing that all of us have learned from the pandemic, there is nothing that can beat a face-to-face interaction. Whether it’s to seal a deal, or to meet for the first time, there is a bond that is formed through human interaction that just isn’t transmitted over a video call. In some countries like the United Arab Emirates, India, China and Nigeria, you must form a personal relationship whether it be playing golf, or eating several meals together, before you can build a business relationship. And that bond isn’t easily formed behind a screen. Read more about business etiquette

Once that connection has been established, and you have been doing business together for some time,  then it can be okay (even in the aforementioned countries) to use videoconferencing. However, at the beginning of the Zoom call you may want to first talk about family matters and personal affairs before jumping right into business. It helps to play off the personal information you’ve gathered from in-person meetings.

In the case there are certain business issues or sensitivities, like contract negotiations and other more sensitive matters, meeting in-person might be wise because these kinds of matters are often best talked about in person to avoid misunderstandings. The same goes for meetings that require getting a big group of people together, especially for internal meetings. For business meetings that require brainstorming and creative meetings there is nothing like the power of getting people together in one room to innovate and create.

Large group meetings and sustainability

In the case of conducting meetings with a large international group, when people have to travel from around the world, meeting in person is perhaps the most productive way. This way your team can better navigate cultural differences and they can often be more productive. Of course, with a team located close-by, traveling by train can be a good compromise because it’s better for the environment, but still lets people get together easily and without wasting a lot of extra waiting time in the airport. 

Time efficiency

Time is of the essence, and especially in the frenetic business world, it’s important to manage your time effectively. Our recommendation: if travel time is comparable or shorter than your meeting will be, it may be worth traveling. 

Imagine you are in Barcelona and you have a meeting in Madrid, it might be worth it to hop on a fast train to have an all-day meeting. You can take advantage of Wi-Fi to work from the train, and you can have an all-day meeting and then even make it home in time for dinner (think that Spaniards eat late). If it’s a matter of a few hours meeting, maybe stay at home and connect virtually. 

Cost considerations

Business travel can add up easily so when deciding whether to stay or to travel, cost considerations will definitely be at the forefront of your decision-making process. If there is a budget available, it may be worth traveling. If funds are tight, then consider that Zoom may be your best option.

Wellbeing, health & safety

Health and safety are important factors in deciding whether to travel or not. Post-pandemic, people are more cautious about traveling to high-risk areas, and may think twice before traveling to a destination that has had recent flare-ups of COVID. Keeping your employees safe and healthy is part of living up to your company’s duty of care so it should definitely play an important role in deciding whether travel is necessary. Plus, traveling frequently for business can put additional stress on your employees due to lack of sleep and jet lag so you want to be sure to find ways to balance essential travel with virtual meetings.

Analyzing whether to Zoom or not to Zoom

Once you’ve looked at all the pros and cons of traveling for business vs. a Zoom meeting, you should also take time to assess the specific objectives of the trip, and whether in order to fulfill these objectives a face-to-face meeting is necessary. Weigh the financial aspect, time and environmental costs against the potential benefits and return on investment of the trip. You may also want to reflect on how traveling for business might affect the wellbeing of your employees, including family life and work-life balance. 

The decision of whether to travel or not for business has many layers and for this reason, should be carefully considered. While the benefits of face-to-face interaction on employee morale (especially for remote workers) are numerous, travel also brings many business opportunities to the plate. Of course, there are some drawbacks like cost, health concerns, and the environmental impact. Ultimately, the secret of deciding to stay or to go lies in striking a balance between the benefits and the drawbacks. In addition it is important to consider the organizational goals. All of these factors together can help you make better informed decisions about business travel. 

And there’s more! Follow the journey below to help make your choice easier!

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