The world around us is going through a transitional change amidst this COVID19 pandemic whether we like it or not.  I personally have a role where face-to-face in person meetings and interactions are an important element.  This has often meant travel, but with the lock downs and COVID19 concerns travel has completely stopped for most companies.  I am no longer traveling to support business function interacting with the IT community, business prospects, or speaking events across the globe. In fact had nothing had changed, I would have been speaking at Microsoft Ignite the Tour in Sweden this week, and at Citrix Synergy in a couple weeks.  Both of which have either been cancelled or postponed/moved to virtual.  Since business needs to continue to move forward, and cannot hold in a stagnant pattern, we are now all forced to figure out how to do our jobs differently and successfully.  This still leaves a lingering question, when will we all be taking face-to-face meetings and traveling again?  Here are my thoughts.

 

Our Current State

Scientists are still working out cure options for COVID19, and a vaccine is speculated to be a year or more out unless they fast track it.  People in general are hesitant to go anywhere, and as much as we want to work with potential customers face-to-face, and speak at live events; even if we are ready, most prospects likely won’t be for some unknown period of time.  So, this left me wondering was I the only one feeling this way?  So, I reached out to all of you on Twitter and the results are interesting.

 

Interpretations of the Poll (See Figure 1 below)

Looking at the results only 20% of the 91 people that weighed in were willing to take a face-to-face in person meeting when the lock downs are over.  My 2 cents on this is that this will likely come sooner rather than later which could even be before there are treatments and vaccines – maybe or maybe not, but that’s what is seems like in this moment.  Those who are waiting for a vaccine came in a 24.2% which to me likely means it could be more than a year before those individuals would take a face-to-face in person call.  To me these capture both extremes of those who would meeting in person soon vs those who will wait as long as possible.

So, where does everyone else sit?  Of the sampling 54.9% of the voters are still waiting and seeing to decide.  Not too eager to be face-to-face/in person, but ultimately monitoring their own comfort levels.

 

Face-to-face meetings

Figure 1: Twitter poll about travel and face-to-face meetings.

 

What’s Next?

Since there is so much that is unknown given our current state and business must continue to generate sales, revenue, and relationship build; we must all begin thinking differently about how we do business.  Strategies beyond in person meetings should be planned and implemented in the near-term to support our teams that would normally be using this approach (ie – anything repeatable should be recorded and distributed for use).  Now is the time for improving collaboration and interactions in a remote/virtual world with all teams to empower them more.  Becoming successful and efficient at closing the deal remotely.

 

The Future of Face-to-Face Meetings

The jury is still out as it relates to the future of in person meetings and when we will all get started again.  If we look at one of the most significant pandemics of the past from the early 1900’s also known as the Spanish Flu they were able to overcome their fears of being in person or we wouldn’t have lived the lives we did up until the recent past, but it seems to have taken much time.  For today we are lucky to have the internet and other technologies that allow us to virtually be together. Do we need to be in a hurry to do business the way we once did, or should we embrace this new challenge to adapt and grow as businesses into a new form of doing the work that we do? There are many technologies that support this shift in doing business.

In all the jury is still out on the future of the way we do business, but one thing is for sure we cannot sit and wait around for the ways of the past to drive us into the future.  That is just never good for business growth with or without a pandemic.

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