A combination of the recession, continued focus on productivity, organizational and individual responses to climate change, changing demographics in the workplace, changing views on the acceptability of “junkets” or jollies, and Icelandic volcanoes, have created a significant change in attitudes towards business travel. I’d hesitate to talk about the “perfect storm” at this stage, but anecdotally what I am seeing is a very different attitude toward using remote collaboration systems, and to some extent social systems, to reduce the need to travel. The technology is so much better than it was even a couple of years ago, so the issue is now a social and behavioural one, and that’s what I think is showing signs of substantial change as well.
I’m going to be doing my first virtual conference in Second Life next week (http://www.technologyiowa.org/en/events_services/the_heartland_greenup/) whichI very much look forward too. There is obviously a time and place for this kind of immersive technology, but the increasing use and acceptability of remote meeting and remote collaboration technologies, immersive or otherwise, is symtomatic of the change I am talking about here. I’m very much looking forward to this experience, but must resist the temptation to play around with my avatar too much -though it desperately needs a hair cut.
As I mentioned above, the reasons for organizations and individuals to engagae more with this way of working are multiple, and vary in strength from one situation to another. Environmental performance is usually toward the top of the list, but it is in fact rarely the primary reason, even if that’s the talk track.
The world was always going to be different coming out of this recession, and I’d suggest that this might very well be one of those big changes.