The five-day trip back east from the California desert was a breeze. We drove not more than 10 hours in any one day. Most days were between 8 and 10 hours. Weather was not an issue at all which was nice in comparison to the drive westward which featured snow and ice in the Pennsylvania mountains as well as the Rocky Mountains west of Denver.
There’s lots of time to think while viewing the spectacular scenery that is seemingly omnipresent in the United States. The trip last week had me thinking a great deal about Coronavirus and how its spread would have affected our trip had domestic travel restrictions been imposed. As of early March, I feel that some sort of travel restrictions is coming in the U.S.
We have clients in Asia and the impact of Coronavirus on our business and our friends and colleagues is gigantic. No travel out of the country is the policy for many of our Asian colleagues. Shares of the video conferencing platform Zoom.us skyrocketed last week as being able to see the person without risking infection is now more important than ever before.
Back around 1980 there was a transit strike in New York City. Women in the workplace had become a common thing. These women however were still of the mind to wear heels while commuting to the office. (Not to mention nylon stockings). When the transit strike occurred, people had few options and walking was one of them. I remember the photos of people crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and the women were all wearing tennis shoes and they would change to their heels once in the office. After the transit strike was over, most women continued to wear the tennis shoes since they are imminently more comfortable and just better. The behavior changed. Commuting was never the same
The Coronavirus might be the spur for video conferencing and video calling to become commonplace. FaceTime aficionados have to imagine that there are hordes of people who simply do not have FaceTime since they are on an Android platform and don’t have a default video calling option. I am a believer that being there is the best thing, but video calling is the next best thing. Before holograms become the norm that is!
Driving through Texas for almost two days, we looked for the border wall that we noticed two years ago but for some reason this time we could not see it at all despite looking hard. We were stopped in Arizona one time and asked if we were American citizens. We answered yes and then were waved through and continued on our way. That was the only unscheduled stop.
Working while on the road just gets easier and more familiar. I’ve not tethered my laptop to my phone, but I use my tablet all the time. Before leaving in the morning and when we arrive in the early evening a solid hour of email keeps me up to speed since I have been replying in real time virtually all day. And one of the most interesting things is – people stop thinking about where you are and just work as if you are in your normal office location. Wherever I have an internet connection and a keyboard I am ready to work.
The potential spread of the Coronavirus in the U.S. will test people’s and company’s abilities to manage NOT being in the office. I hope the impact on people’s health will be minimal but am also fascinated as to how it might change the way we work. If my guess is right Coronavirus will untether more people from a physical office than anything that has happened before.
If you think you could never take a road trip AND work AND be out of the office for 6 weeks, that may be true now, but it will hopefully be less so in the future.