An Anniversary

I first stepped on an aeroplane at the age of 13, a Kuwait Airways Boeing 747 from London Heathrow to Frankfurt, on a Town Twinning visit from my hometown of Dronfield, Derbyshire to Sindelfingen in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Prior to that, my family holidays had been spent in on the beaches and in the stately homes of the UK. Flying and international travel was something I saw as extremely glamorous – by spending a fortnight with a bunch of British and German teenagers I had joined the jetset! I made a few trips around Europe in the following years, and made my first international business trip to Milan, Italy around 1993, but was only an occasional flyer until 1994 when I took a huge leap of faith and started work in the oilfield chemicals industry – living in Muscat, Oman. That was the start of 25 years “on the road” – barely a month went by when I didn’t fly somewhere, and I lived in many different countries across the Middle East and Asia, interspersed with time in Aberdeen. I had jobs that routinely involved 2 or 3 international business trips every month, for several years. Exhausting, yes sometimes, but exciting – yes! Meeting new people, seeing new places, learning new business cultures, trying new food – I loved it! And then came the COVID pandemic…. Today marks one year since I was last on a plane. That was a big change after so many years travelling – not just for me but for my family, who had to adjust to me being at home all the time! One year ago I was returning from a family celebration at my sister’s house in Germany (not far from Sindelfingen, where I made my first trip all those years ago!) My last business trip was a quick hop to the Netherlands in January 2020. I know many of my colleagues in the oil and chemical industries are in very similar situations, and many people have not had a holiday for a year or more. How will the future look? Will we travel as we used to, or will “Zoom” be the new normal? Personally I think we will continue to value the face-to-face contact, and some travel will still be necessary for business, but video technology will mean that more can be achieved “virtually” so the amount of travel needed will reduce. What do you think? What is your organisation planning – “business as usual” or some form of “new normal”?

Published by johnjex

Director and Principal Consultant, Jex Business Services.

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